SEDAQAH IN JEWISH\CHRISTIAN TRADITION
(c) Copyright,1991, by Wm. G. Most
By: William G. Most, Notre Dame Institute, Arlington, VA.
A new spirit of ecumenical openness invites us to increase our study of
what help can be had from Jewish sources in the study of St. Paul,
especially since so often behind the Greek word he uses lies a Hebrew
word. So philological studies are more important than ever. And in
addition, they help us avoid an "a priori" way of working, trying to make
things fit preconceived notions.
No one at all would debate the fact that Hebrew "sadiq" and "sedaqah" when
applied to humans mean originally meant conduct in accord with what is
morally right. Yet there is a powerful tendency, often sparked by "a
priori" considerations - to think that these words mean something quite
different when applied to God. The picture is complicated since in
general, we know that ancient words often have a broad span of meaning,
and in particular with "sedaqah," we know that it acquired the meaning of
salvific activity on the part of God.
The Greek and Romans gods were considered by most persons in ancient times
to be amoral, acting as if there were no morality at all. The gods of
Mesopotamia were largely the same. So when the Hebrew Scriptures said
in Psalm 11.7 that Yahweh is morally right "sadiq", and he loves morally
right things "sedaqoth", something strikingly new had been introduced.
Psalm 33.5 tells us very similarly: "He loves moral rightness and right
judgment "sedaqah" and "mishpat",the earth is full of the Lord's fidelity
to His covenant "hesed". " We begin to get a hint of something further
from the second half of the parallelism in this line. It says that the
earth is full of God's fidelity to His covenant "hesed". In spite of the
popular belief that "The Greeks always have a word for it," this time they
did not. That lack resulted in the unfortunate habit of translating
"hesed" as mercy,as the LXX does with its usual "eleos," or English loving
kindness. Really, "hesed" means observance of the convent bond, and says
that God observes His part of the covenant relationship. But we will
return to that covenant aspect after a bit.
Now we will move back to Genesis 18.19 in which God, confident of
Abraham's fidelity says: "I have chosen him to command his children and
his house after him, and they will observe the way of the Lord, so as to
do moral rightness and right judgment "sedaqah" and "mishpat" in order
that "lemaan" the Lord may bring upon Abraham all that He has spoken about
Him." It seems that Abraham's observance is somehow required in order that
the Lord may carry out what He has pledged to Abraham, at least, so that
Abraham may not deserve to lose the promises.
Deuteronomy 32.4 also shows God's concern for what is right: "For all His
ways are right judgment "mishpat", a God of fidelity "emunah" and not
iniquity; morally right and upright "sadiq" and "yashar" is He."
GOD'S SEDAQAH IN CONFERRING BENEFITS
There are many texts that reflect God's doing good as a matter of
"sedaqah." For example in Judges 5.11,in the Song of Deborah in thanks for
the victory,we find: "There they shall recite the righteous acts "sidqoth"
of the Lord." Similarly,in Isaiah 61.10:"He has clothed me with the
garments of salvation "yesha" and covered me with the robe of
righteousness "sedaqah". " Again,in Isaiah 52.1: "Who is this that comes
from Edom?... It is I, speaking in moral rightness "sedaqah", great to
In Psalm 24.5: "He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and what is
morally right "sedaqah" from the God of his salvation." We notice an
interesting development of "sedaqah" in this line. We will return to it
Similarly, Job (37.23) voiced his confidence that God would do what is
right for him."The Almighty is excellent...in right judgment "mishpat",
plenteous in moral rightness "sedaqah". He will not oppress."
GOD'S SEDAQAH IN PUNISHING
But very interestingly, we will now discover that the very same words for
moral rightness and salvation can be used to refer to unfavorable things.
A most striking idea of this sort meets us if we read Isaiah 59.15b - 18
in the original Hebrew: "The Lord saw, and it was evil in His eyes that
there was no carrying out of right judgment ("mishpat" -by His people).
And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to
intervene (on behalf of "sedaqah"). So His own arm caused salvation for
Him "tosh'a lo" and His moral rightness "sedaqah", it sustained Him. And
He put on moral rightness "sedaqah" as a breastplate,and salvation
"yeshua" as a helmet on His head. He clothed Himself with garments of
executive vindication "naqam"....According to deeds, accordingly He will
This is a remarkable text.It not only uses "sedaqah" in the sense of God's
will to rectify right order for punishment, but it even uses the root to
save, "ysh" to mean to restore "sedaqah" by punishment.
So we see that both words, "sedaqah" and "yeshua" are capable of going in
two directions: they can, as all admit, mean saving activity, but they can
also mean punishing activity. The word "naqam" in the same passage is
similarly capable for going in both directions. Hence R. C. Boling, in
"Judges" in "Anchor Bible" comments: "The verb "naqam," in the Hebrew
Bible, as in the Amarna letters, stands for the Suzerain's exercise of his
executive prerogatives in the world--vindication, not 'vengeance". This
is correct, for vengeance wills evil to another so it may be evil to him,
really, in hatred. God is not capable of hatred. But He is capable of
putting things right, of vindication. In "naqam" and in "yeshua" He does
put things right - favor for the good, penalty to establish sedaqah for
the wicked. G. Mendenhall in "The Tenth Generation" writes similarly.
On the one hand, Mendenhall notes on p. 78): "The root NQM signifies the
exercise of power by the highest legitimate political authority for
protection of his own subjects." On the other hand,on p.85: "Yahweh has
done for you vindication from your enemies (Judg. 11:36)" So to the
enemies, it is punishment, to His loyal people, it is vindication.
We find the same ideas, in similar words,in Isaiah 63.5 where God says:
"And I was distressed that there was no one to help and my arm caused
salvation for me 'tosh'a li'."
Isaiah 10.22 says: "Destruction is decreed, overflowing with moral
The thought is similar in Lamentations 1.10: "He the Lord is morally right
"sadiq", for I have rebelled against His commandment.
HOLINESS CALLS FOR SEDAQAH
To carry out moral rightness is a thing demanded by God's holiness. Thus
in Isaiah 5.15-16: "Man is bowed down,and men are brought low, but the
Lord of Hosts will be exalted in right judgment 'mishpat', and the God,the
Holy One will show himself holy 'niqdesh' by moral rightness 'sedaqah'."
The same thought appears again in Ez.28.22: "Thus says the Lord God.
Behold, I am against you,O Sidon. I will be glorified in your midst, and
they shall know that I am the Lord when I inflict punishments on her, and
I shall show myself holy in her "niqdashti".
COVENANT AND SEDAQAH
How is it possible for these words to be used in such opposite senses? We
already noted that Ps.33.5 in the parallel second half of the verse said
that "the earth is full of the covenant fidelity "hesed" of the Lord."
Psalm 36.10 speaks similarly to God: "Keep up your covenant fidelity
"hesed" to those who love you, your moral righteousness "sedaqah" to the
upright of heart." We notice here that God's exercise of faithful
righteousness is conditioned on love and uprightness of heart in the human
beings. Psalm 103.17 speaks in much the same way: "But the covenant
fidelity "hesed" of the Lord is from age to age on those who fear Him,and
His moral rightness "sedaqah" on children's children."
This picture is quite in line with the solemn admonition given by Moses to
the people in Deuteronomy 11.26: "Behold, today I am putting before you a
blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you obey the commandments of the
Lord your God...and the curse if you do not obey the commandments of the
Lord your God." In other words, in the covenant God has said, in effect,
that He will respond to them according to their response to Him .Psalm
103. 17 puts "hesed" and "sedaqah" in parallel. The thought seems to be
that for God to do what He has pledged in the covenant - whether it be
blessing or curse - is a matter of what moral rightness calls for, it is a
matter of "sedaqah." His holiness calls for this.
The relation of the covenant to punishment appears clearly in Nehemiah
9.31-33: "Now, our God, the God, the great, the mighty one, the feared
one, who keep the covenant and covenant fidelity "hesed", let not all our
hardship seem slight before you, which has come upon us, upon our kings,
our princes, our priests, our prophets, and upon our fathers, and upon all
your people since the days of the kings of Assyria to this day. And now
you are morally right "sadiq" in all that has come upon us, for you have
done the truth "emeth" and we have done wickedly."
The thought is epitomized in an important saying of Rabbi Simeon ben
Eleazar,in which he claims to quote Rabbi Meir, a disciple of the great
Akiba ("Tosefta, Kiddushin" 1.14]: "He [i.e., anyone] has carried out one
commandment. Blessings (on him). He has tipped the scales to the side of
merit for himself and for the world. He has committed a transgression. Woe
(to him). He has tipped the scales to the side of debt for himself and for
Romans 3.4 says:"Let God be true,even though every man be false, as it is
written (Psalm 51.6): "So you may be justified in your words, and win out
when you are judged." God is pictured as if called to court, as it were,in
a rib, a lawsuit. But He emerges justified. He is morally righteous, and
loves what is morally righteous. The imaginary objection Paul raises in
the next lines confirm this understanding of verse 6: "But if our
wickedness serves to show the moral rightness of God: what shall we say?"
The sense is this: our wickedness is the occasion of showing that God is
righteous, in that He punishes our wickedness.
THE PROBLEM OF ROMANS 2.6
This analysis gives us a new approach to much vexed problem of Romans 2:6
where Paul says that God "will repay each one according to his works".
How can that be, when Paul so vehemently insists that justification is
gratuitous, and that we do not earn salvation? If we put that line into
its original context of Psalm 62,13, which is so often translated poorly:
"You O Lord,have mercy, for you will repay each one according to his
works." We must ask: How does mercy relate to repayment for works?
However, the word rendered so often by "mercy" really is our familiar
"hesed". So the sense should amount to this: You O Lord really observe
the covenant, for you will repay each one according to his works: benefits
for obedience,punishment for violation. Now if we examine the covenant
more closely we will see that there are two answers if we ask: Why does
God give us good things? on the most basic level, it is sheer generosity,
unmerited, unmeritable. For no creature could by its own power establish a
claim on God. But on the secondary level, i.e., given the fact that He has
of His own accord entered into a covenant, in which He has said in effect:
"If you do this, I will do that,"--then, even though technically He does
not and cannot owe anything to any creature, yet He does owe it to Himself
to do what He has said. If the creature carries out covenant obedience,
God will surely reward Him. That reward can be called "sedaqah" for it is
a matter of "sedaqah" for God's Holiness to carry out what He has pledged.
Not to do it would be to violate "sedaqah," which He in His Holiness
THE PROBLEM OF ROMANS 1.17
Now if we turn to the much debated lines of Romans 1.17-18 we should be
able to see a solution. Too long, as we said at the start, the
"righteousness of God" has been interpreted according to preconceived
notions. With truly admirable candor both Lutheran and Catholic
participants in a lengthy dialogue on justification by faith confessed:
"The starting point for Luther was his inability to find peace with
God.... (he was) terrified in his own conscience...." And again: "In their
situation the major function of justification by faith was, rather, to
console anxious consciences, terrified by the inability to do enough to
earn or merit salvation".
To satisfy this preoccupation, exegetes have tended to say that verse 17
speaks of God's salvific activity, while verse 18 speaks of His wrath. But
then: What should we do with the conjunction "gar" which joins the verses.
For the conjunction "for" does not reverse the direction of the thought -
from saving to anger - but it continues the thought in the same direction.
How is the direction the same? Because both kinds of activities fall under
covenant, in which He, God has set before the people a blessing and a
curse. They may make their choice, and He, under the covenant, will follow
through. For Him to act either to save them or to punish them - both are a
matter of "hesed," a matter of "sedaqah," and "naqam," and even "yeshua."
His Holiness calls for both.
This does not mean we are saying the most favored exegesis is entirely
wrong. No we are suggesting it is shallow. It does not recognize the
deeper basis of both salvific and punitive activity: the hesed of the
covenant which offers a choice of blessing or curse.
THE SHEGGAGAH THEME SHOWS HIS CONCERN FOR MORAL RIGHTNESS
This concern of God for what is morally right shows remarkably in chapter
4 of Leviticus, in the prescriptions for what is to be done in case of
"sheggagah," involuntary violation of what is right. So the wrongdoer must
make up for it, usually by a sacrifice.
The comment of Roland J. Faley On Leviticus 4.1-4:15 ("New Jerome Biblical
Commentary" p. 64) is quite right: "As a result of his authoritative
status in the community, the high priests's sin was believed to affect the
people as a whole.... Sin was a positive violation of the covenant
relationship, whether voluntary or involuntary. Israel's responsibilities
were clearly enunciated in the law, and any departure therefrom disturbed
the right order of things. The presence or absence of volition did not
alter the objective situation. The wrong had to be righted, and even the
unwitting party....had to offer atoning sacrifice".
The stress on rectifying the objective order is quite in accord with what
we saw beginning with the text from Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar.
Of course, an involuntary "sheggagah" was not at all on the same level as
a sin done be "yad ramah," with a high hand, with full deliberativeness.
But yet it should not be just merely ignored as if it did not matter at
all. We think of numerous passages that bring this out. For example, in
Genesis 12.17 Pharao has taken over Abram's wife in good faith. But: "The
Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with great plagues because of
Abram's wife Sarai." There are similar attitudes shown, whether the
incidents are doublets or not, in Gen 20.1-7 and 26.1-11.
In 1 Samuel 14.24 Saul had sworn an oath that his people would fast. His
son Jonathan narrowly escaped death for unwitting violation.
Tobit in 2.13 is very unreasonably careful of this sort of violation. His
wife had been given a goat along with her pay. He would not believe it and
said: "Where did this goat come from? Perhaps it was stolen! Give it
Psalm 19 12-13, still in use in the liturgy says: "Though your servant is
careful of them, very diligent in keeping them, yet who can detect
failings? Cleanse me from my unknown faults."
The Testament of Levi in 3.5 says: "In the heaven next to it are the
archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the
sins of ignorance of the righteous."
The theme appears again in the Psalms of Solomon 3.8-9:"The righteous man
continually searches his house to remove utterly (all) iniquity (done) by
him in error. He makes atonement for (sins of) ignorance by fasting and
afflicting his soul."
In the Gospel of Luke, 12.47-48 we finds the same attitude: "The slave who
knew his master's wishes but did not prepare to fulfill them will get a
severe beating, but the one who did not know them, but did things
deserving blows (objectively) will get off with fewer stripes."
In the image of the last judgment in Matthew 24.44, those on the left
plead ignorance: "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or away from
home or naked or ill or in prison and not attend to you in your needs."
But the judge rejects the plea.
St. Paul had persecuted Christianity out of zeal for what he thought was
right. But he still wrote in 1 Cor 15.9: "I am the least of the Apostles;
in fact, because I persecuted the church of God, I do not even deserve the
name." The attitude of 1 Timothy 1.15 is equally Pauline: "I myself am the
worst" of sinners.
Paul's words in 1 Cor 4.4 have been often misunderstood, by those who did
not know the "sheggagah" theme: "I have nothing on my conscience. But that
does not mean that I am justified." A. Büchler explains: "The ancient
pious men brought every day a doubtful guilt-offering, to clear themselves
from any error of a grave religious nature possibly committed on the
previous day" . This of course is doing even more than Leviticus 4
required, which called for atonement only when the guilty one came to know
he had do an unlawful thing.
The "First Epistle of Clement" (2.3) tells the Corinthians:"You stretched
out your hands to the almighty God, beseeching him to be propitious, if
you had sinned at all unwillingly 'akontes'."
In the "Shepherd of Hermas," (Mandate 9.7) we find the angel telling
Hermas: "For absolutely, on account of some temptation or transgression of
which you are ignorant, you receive what you ask for so slowly." And in
Parables 5.7.3:"Only God has the power to give healing for your former
Tertullian ("Apologeticum" 18.2-3) says that God "sent...men.,.to proclaim
what sanctions he had decreed for not knowing." And in His "De
idololatria" 15.7-8: "I know a brother who was severely chastised in a
vision the same night because his slaves, after a sudden
announcement...had crowned his door. And yet, he himself had not crowned
it, nor commanded it...and when he came back, had rebuked it."
Clement of Alexandria ("Stromata" 6.6) wrote: "Whatever any one of you has
done out of ignorance, not clearly knowing God, if he repents when he does
learn, all his sins will be forgiven him."
John Chrysostom ("On Priesthood" 4.2) says that some who are electors of
priests and bishops are careless, but, "If the elector is guilty of none
of these things, but says he was deceived by the opinion of the many, he
will not be free of punishment, though he will pay a penalty somewhat less
than the one who is ordained."
In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, still in frequent use today, before
the Epistle there is a prayer: "Forgive us every offense, both voluntary
THE CONCEPT OF SIN AS DEBT
We saw from Simeon ben Eleazar that sin is a debt. That word reflects
again God's concern for what is morally right.
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
This notion appears often in the Old Testament, in the "sheggagah" theme,
as we have seen, and also in many other passages.
Hosea 7.1: "When I would (wanted to) heal Israel, then the iniquity of
Ephraim was laid bare." It seems that God wanted to heal them, but the
iniquity was a debt to be paid - within covenant. So He could not, within
covenant, heal them. His Holiness called for this attitude.
Jeremiah 11.5:God calls for obedience, "In order that ("lemaan") I may carry
out the oath that I swore to your fathers." John Bright renders well
thus:"this will allow me to carry out the oath that I swore to your
Jeremiah 36.3: Asks them to turn from their evil way "and I will forgive
their iniquity and their sin" "wesalachti." Bright renders: "and then I
can forgive" . Cf. Jer. 11.5 above.
Ezechiel: 5.13.God had said in v 6 that the Jerusalem had sinned worse
than the nations.Therefore He would punish them and then in v.13:"And my
anger shall be fulfilled." Surely does not mean not vengeance (willing
evil to another so it may be evil to him)- which is not in God - but that
the objective order will be rebalanced.
The Septuagint: The verb "aphienai" is often used to mean forgive. Its
connotation is to remit a debt. e.g. Gen 50.17; Ex 32.32.
IN INTERTESTAMENTAL LITERATURE
Hebrew "hobah" and Aramaic "hobah" which directly mean debt are often used
to mean sin. Cf. S. Lyonnet- L.Sabourin, "Sin, Redemption and Sacrifice"
(Rome, Biblical Institute 1970, pp. 25-26, 32. Cf. George F. Moore,
"Judaism" (Harvard U. Press, Cambridge, 1927. II, p. 95 and M. Jastrow "A
Dictionary of the Targumim" (Pardes, N.Y. 1950. I. pp. 428-29); Jacob
Levy, "Chaldaisches Wörterbuch über die Targumim" (Joseph Melzer Verlag,
Köln, 1959, p. 241; and Michael Sokoloff, "A Dictionary of Jewish
Palestinian Aramaic," Bar Ilan University Press, Ramat-Gan, Israel, 1990,
Testament of Abraham. E.P.Sanders dates it 1-2 cent. AD. Recension
A:12.l8: "And when he opened the book he found its (those of a soul at
judgment) sins and righteous deeds to be equally balanced, and he neither
turned it over to the torturers, nor (placed it among) those who were
being saved, but he set it in the middle."
In Chapter 14, Abraham and the Commander in Chief Michael offer a prayer
for that soul, which corrects the balance, and it is saved. "Eerdmans
Bible Dictionary" says most scholars think, aside from some Christian
interpolations, the Testaments are by a single Jewish author of the 2nd
half of the 2nd century BC..
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The concept of sin as debt is very clear here. Especially important is the
"Our Father" itself (Mt 6.12), where we ask to have our debts (= sins)
forgiven "opheilemata" as we forgive our debtors (= those who have sinned
against us). This of course is the same usage of "aphienai" that is found
in the LXX. The same usage is found in the parable of the talents in Mt
18.24: "There was brought to him one who owed 10 thousand talents". Then
in v.27; "He forgave the debt to him": "daneion apheken."
There is also an implication of forgiving a debt in many uses of
Lk. 7.42: "And since they did not have the means to pay, he forgave each
one."(They had owed debts: "opheilo"
2 Cor 2.7: "so that on the contrary you should forgive and comfort him."
2.10: "to whom you have forgiven anything, so do I".
Col. 2.13: "forgiving us all our transgressions."
Col. 3.13: "Forgiving each other as God has forgiven you." The verb is
echarisato-- make a present of the debt.
Eph. 4.32: "be kindly,merciful to one another,forgiving one another just
as God in Christ has forgiven you."
There is the same implication of debt in the texts of Paul about Christ
buying us back, buying at a price:
"exagorazo": Gal. 3.13: "Christ has bought us back from the curse of the
law by becoming a curse for us."
Gal. 4.5: "that He might buy back those under the law."
"agorazo": 1 Cor. 6.20: "You were bought at a price."
1 Cor .7.23: "You were bought at a price." "lytron": Mt.20.28: "The Son of
Man came to give his life as a ransom for the many." Mk 10.45 has the
same. "antilytron:" 1 Tim 2.6: "He gave Himself as a ransom for all".
The concept that sin is a debt is abundant in rabbinic literature.
Aboth 4.13: "Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob said: He who does one commandment
gains for himself one advocate "prqlyt"; and he who commits one
transgression gains for himself one accuser." Cf. also "Aboth" 3.20, an
elaborate metaphor of a shopman who gives credit, but the collectors daily
make the rounds to call for payment. Sin is viewed as a debt.
Pirque R. Eliezer 4.11a: "He that does one precept gains for himself one
advocate "prqlyt", but he that commits one transgression gets for himself
one accuser. Repentance and good works are as a shield against
Tosefta,Kiddushin 1.14: (Simeon ben Eleazar in name of R.Meir): "He has
carried out one commandment. His blessings! He has tipped the scale to the
side of merit "zchth" for himself and for the world; he has committed one
transgression. Woe to him. He has tipped the scale to the side of debt
"hobah" for himself and for the world." - verbatim adding "kol" in
Kiddushin 1.10:40a, below.
B. Kiddushin 1.10.40a-b: " Our Rabbis taught: A man should always (40b)
regard himself as though he were half guilty and half meritorious: if he
performs one precept, happy is he for weighting himself down in the scale
of merit; if he commits one transgression, woe to him for weighting
himself down in the scale of guilt "hobah"....R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon
said: Because the world is judged by its majority, and an individual (too)
is judged by his majority of deeds, good or bad, if he performs one good
deed, happy is he for turning the scale both for himself and for the whole
world on the side of merit "zchth"; if he commits one transgression, woe
to him for weighting himself and the whole world in the scale of guilt,
"hobah" for it is said, 'but one sinner etc.' - on account of the single
sin which this man commits he and the whole world lose much good. R.Simeon
b.Yohai said: Even if he is perfectly righteous all his life but rebels at
the end he destroys his former "good deeds",...And even if one is
completely wicked all his life but repents at the end, he is not
reproached with his wickedness....".
COMMENT: We note the internal quotes from "Tosefta, Kiddushin" 1.14, cited
above. - But Simeon b.Yokai rejects the idea given at the start and says:
"Even if he is perfectly righteous all his life but rebels at the end,he
destroys his former (good deeds). He goes on to cite Ezek 33.12.
Gemara on Kiddushin, as above: "R. Eleazar son of R. Zadok said:....the
Holy One, blessed be He, brings suffering upon the righteous in this
world, in order that they may inherit the future world....the Holy One,
blessed be He, makes them (the wicked) prosper in this world, in order to
destroy them and consign them to the nethermost rung...."
Baraitha,Kid.40 b: "Rabbi Eleazar ben R.Sadok, of the lst century in
Jerusalem, said: 'God brings chastisements upon the righteous men in this
world, in order that they may inherit the world-to- come'".
Baraitha in Kiddushin 40b:"R. Eleazar b. R. Sadok says: God bestows
prosperity in fullness upon the sinners in this world,in order to drive
them (from the world-to- come) and give them as their portion the lowest
step (of Gehinnom)." The same idea, in almost the same words is in Pesikta
73a R. Akiba: "God bestows prosperity and well-being in fullness in this
world and pays the sinners for the few good deeds done by them in this
world, in order to punish them in the world-to-come.".
Sifre on Deuteronomy, Piska 32: "Furthermore, a man should rejoice more in
chastisement than in times of prosperity. For if a man is prosperous all
his life, no sin of his can be forgiven. What brings forgiveness of Sin?
Suffering....R.Meir says,Scripture says 'Know in your heart that the Lord
your God chastises you just as a man chastises his son' (Deut 8:5). You
and your heart know the deeds that you have done and you know that
whatever sufferings I have brought upon you do not outweigh all your
deeds. R.Yose ben R. Judah says, Precious are chastisements, for the name
of the Omnipresent One rests upon one who suffers them.... R. Nehemiah
says, Precious are chastisements, for just as sacrifices bring
appeasement, so do chastisements bring appeasement....Indeed, suffering
appeases even more than sacrifices, for sacrifices involve wealth,but
suffering involve's one's body....".
B. Sabb 2.6. fol. 32a:"If one is led to the place of judgment to be judged
he can be saved if he has great advocates "prqlitin", but if he does
not...he will not be saved; and these are the advocates "prqlitin" of a
man: conversion and good works."
B. Baba Bathra 1.5. fol. 10.a "All the moral rightness "sedaqah" and
covenant fidelity "hesed" that Israel does in the world are great
well-being "shalom" and are great advocates "prqlitin" between Israel and
their Father in heaven."
COMMENT: We note that it is within the covenant framework- hesed--and
justice-- "sedaqah." The advocates,--we note the Greek loan word - are the
reasons to balance the objective order favorably. At times paraclete
seems to mean a weight in the scales,as in the above. At other times it
seems to mean a person who pleads for another. Thus in "Shemoth Rabbah" 32
we read that for keeping one precept God gives one angel, for two, two
angels, for many, half of his host. And in "Exodus Rabbah" 18.3 (on 12.29)
Moses is called a good paraclete. The Targum on Job 33.23 says that if a
man has merit, an angel intervenes as an advocate among 1000 accusers.
Semahoth III.11. R. Yehudah ben Ilai asserts that the ancient pious men ,
"used to be afflicted with intestinal illness for about ten to twenty days
before their death, so they might...arrive pure in the hereafter.".
Leo the Great, "Epistle 28, To Flavian": "To pay the debt of our
condition, inviolable nature was joined to passible nature." 
Athanasius, "On the Incarnation of the Divine Word" 9: "For the Word,
knowing that only by dying was it possible for the corruption of men to be
removed, since the Word, being immortal, could not die...took to Himself a
body that could die...The Word of God...paid the debt in death."
Origen, "On Matthew 20.28:" "Now to whom did He give His life as a price
of redemption for the many? For it was not to God. Was it then to the Evil
One? For he had us in his power, until the life of Jesus was given to him
as a ransom for us - to him who was deceived, as though he could hold that
Ambrose, "Epist. 72": "Without doubt he [satan] demanded a price to set
free from slavery those whom he held bound. Now the price of our liberty
was the blood of Jesus, which necessarily had to be paid to him to whom we
had been sold by our sins."
Augustine, "Sermo 329": For on the cross he carried out a great exchange.
There the sack of our price was paid, when his side was opened by the
lance of the one who struck it, from there flowed out the price for the
Gregory of Nazianzus, "Oration 45," on Easter 22: "Now if the ransom goes
to none other than the captor: I ask, to whom was it brought and why? If
to the Evil One - what a mockery! If that robber receives not just
something from God, but God Himself....But if it was paid to the Father -
first of all, how? For we were not held captive by him. Secondly, why
would the blood of his only begotten please the Father....Or is it not
clear instead that the Father did receive the offering, even though He did
not ask for it or need it, but He received it as a result of His divine
plan and because it was right that humanity should be sanctified by the
humanity of God.".
SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF THE PRICE OF REDEMPTION
The texts about buying, especially those in 1 Cor, have caused much
discussion. The imagery is this: the human race was in the captivity of
satan. Christ paid the price for their release. But the notion that his
blood would be paid to satan was abhorrent to most thinkers - although
Ambrose was willing to accept it.
But now,thanks to our studies,and to the further Rabbinic texts and with
the help of the imagery found in Simeon ben Eleazar in "Tosefta,Kiddushin"
1.14, we can solve the problem. It is true, we should not press the
metaphor of price so far as to suppose a price paid to satan. And of
course it was not paid to the Father, who was not the captor. But the
Holiness of God, as we have seen, was concerned about everything that is
right, and since the scales of the objective order were infinitely out of
balance, he willed to have an infinite rebalance, through the death of
Christ, through the ransom or price he paid.
We have surveyed the usages of "sedaqah" as reflected in the Old
Testament, in Intertestamental Literature, in the New Testament, in the
Rabbis, in the Fathers of the Church. We have found that one of the most
dominant concepts underlying many things is the idea that God's Holiness
is concerned with the moral order, with what is morally right. This
appaears in His conferring benefits.It appears also in His punishing. His
Holiness wills that the moral order be righted if it is violated: for sin
is viewed widely a debt. The covenants helped us to see how two very
different meanings of "sedaqah," for reward and for punishment, have a
common root. There is a parallel in the usages of "yeshua" and "naqam."
These findings shed new light on some much vexed problems, chiefly those
of Romans 2.6, Romans 1.17, and the notion of redemption.
1. Most Greeks held this view that the Gods were amoral, as we see from
the many legends of the sexual escapades of Zeus. However a few, such a
Socrates, would consider Zeus as the guardian of moral rightness
("dikaiosyne" like Hebrew "sedaqah" at times).
2. Cf. Thorkild Jacobsen, "Mesopotamia.VII. The Good Life" pp. 202-19 in
"The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man," edd. H. & H. A. Frankfort et
al. University of Chicago Press, 1948.
3. R. C. Boling, "Judges,Anchor Bible," Doubleday, NY. 1975, p. 25.
4. G. Mendenhall, "The Tenth Generation," Johns Hopkins University Press,
1973, pp. 69-104.
5. Cf. Joseph A.Burgess, "Rewards, but in a Very Different Sense" in H.
George Anderson, T. Austin Murphy, Joseph A.Burgess, edds, "Justification
by Faith. Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII," Augusb urg,
Minneapolis,1985, pp. 94 - 110.
6. Cf. Wm. Most, "A Biblical Theology of Redemption in a Covenant
Framework" in CBQ 29 (1967) pp., 1-19.
7. "Justification by Faith.Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII," ## 24
8. Roland J.Faley, "Leviticus" in "New Jerome Biblical Commentary," 1990,
9. A. Büchler, "Studies in Sin and Atonement in the Rabbinic Literature of
the First Century," KTAV, N.Y., 1967, p. 425.
10. John Bright, "Jeremiah, Anchor Bible," Doubleday, N.Y. 1965, p. 81.
11. "Ibid." p. 176.
12. E. P. Sanders, "Testament of Abraham" in James H. Charlesworth, ed.,
"The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha," Doubleday, N.Y. 1983, I. p. 875. The
text is on p. 889.
13. "Eerdmans Bible Dictionary," Grand Rapids, 1987, p. 994.
14. Kiddushin, tr. Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Soncino, London, 1977.
15. Büchler, op. cit. pp. 318-19.
16. "Ibid.," p. 173, n, 3.
17. Translated by Robert Hammer, previously unpublished, cited from Jacob
Neusner, "Midrash in Context," Fortress, Phila., 1983, pp. 150-51.
l8. Cf. Kittel, s.v. "parakletos."
19. "The Tractate Mourning," tr. Dov Zlotnik, Yale University Press,New
Haven, 1966, p.39.
20. DS 293.
21. PL 38.1455.
22. PG 36.653.2
23. Ambrose, Epistle 72. Origen, "On Matthew" 20.28 says too it was paid
to satan, but in deception: satan could not keep it!