Matthew 23:37 commentary

Mat 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Matthew 23 depicts a long speech by Jesus. In the speech he calls of the religious leaders. He says they lead people to hell. Jesus then calls out the religious leaders for their false claims that if they lived during the time of the prophets that they would not have partaken in killing God’s people. Jesus says this is false, and adds that in order to prove this that God has sent modern prophets. Their treatment of modern prophets (presumably Jesus and John the Baptist) will show that they are guilty of all the blood in the past as well. It is a test.

Jesus follows this statement with a cry. The speaker seems to be God and the reference appears to be 2 Esdras 1:30:

2Es 1:28 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Have I not prayed you as a father his sons, as a mother her daughters, and a nurse her young babes,
2Es 1:29 That ye would be my people, and I should be your God; that ye would be my children, and I should be your father?
2Es 1:30 I gathered you together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings: but now, what shall I do unto you? I will cast you out from my face.
2Es 1:31 When ye offer unto me, I will turn my face from you: for your solemn feastdays, your new moons, and your circumcisions, have I forsaken.
2Es 1:32 I sent unto you my servants the prophets, whom ye have taken and slain, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, saith the Lord.
2Es 1:33 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Your house is desolate, I will cast you out as the wind doth stubble.

In 2 Esdras, God laments that He has responded to Israel’s every need, yet Israel still rejects Him. The tone is perplexment. God says that He pleaded with Israel as a Father would his son. But Israel did not respond. God has exhausted His options and now turns to punishment.

Matthew 23:37 seems to share the same theme. God has begged Israel to turn to Him, but they have rejected. God’s “will” for Israel is being thwarted and God needs to turn to other methods of responding. Matthew 23 ends with echoing the same threats as 2 Esdras.

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