The Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37
Many, seeking to obey the letter of the Torah, fail to keep the spirit of Torah and thus become breakers of Torah.
The famous phrase, “Good Samaritan,” is born of the mashal (parable) of Messiah Yeshua recorded in the Gospel According to Luke 10:25-37.
The parable of the Samaritan teaches that “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev. 19:18) means to have compassion on those who willingly live at peace within your land and community, regardless of your relationship to them. It further teaches that right action is evidence of godly faith.
Both the ancient Samaritans and their modern descendants are of mixed ethnicity, having an ancestral connection to the Jewish people and a pseudo-Jewish religious worldview. Therefore, the Samaritan of Yeshua’s mashal (parable) [1st Century C.E.] is not the enemy that many commentators presume him to be.
Correctly Interpreting the mashal (Parable) of the “Good Shomroniy (Samaritan)” is of great importance today, particularly due to the “woke social justice” modern misinterpretation of it, which is employed by numerous anti semitic and (so called) “Christian” organizations like the World Council of Churches and their associated NGO the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), who actively harass Jews living in their ancestral homeland of Shomron (Samaria) and Y’hudah (Judea). With the support of the WCC, the EAPPI practice their harassment of Jews in the Name of “Jesus”, the Jew they (EAPPI) claim to worship. This kind of hypocrisy relies on the misrepresentation of Scripture in order to propagate a satanic agenda.
On occasion I have had the displeasure of reading well-meaning (and satanic) Christian rewrites of the parable of the good Samaritan, often titled, "The Good Palestinian".
Before I begin, let me be clear, there are of course many good people living under the Palestinian Authority and in Gaza under the terrorist organization Hamas. This is a fact that should not be denied. I love my Arab cousins living under these wicked regimes and pray for their freedom in Messiah and in daily life.
However, a Christian who recasts the parable of the good Samaritan as the parable of “The Good Palestinian” shows a tragic lack of understanding, not only of the parable of Scripture but also of the historical relationships it addresses.
The modern people miscalled Palestinian are for the most part Arab immigrants to the land of Israel from various parts of the Arab world (in relationship to modern history, this immigration predominantly occurring on mass during the Ottoman period). The term Palestinian has no correlation to the ethnic religious people called Shomroniym (Samaritans), none whatsoever.
The Shomroniym (Samaritans) are a mixed blood ethnicity who have Jewish (Israelite) bloodlines among others (this cannot be said of the so called Palestinian people). As a result there is an effort today by some Israeli rabbis to include the Shomroniym as a sect of Judaism, an idea that seems reasonable given the acceptance of Beta Yisrael (Ethiopian Jews) and other ethnically diverse Jews from around the world.
With regard to the first century Shomroniym (Samaritans), while there was clearly some animosity between them and the Judeans (both religious and ethnic), they were none the less understood to have a connection to the people of Israel. Therefore, they were not remotely similar to the modern (so called) Palestinian people. (Those who know modern history know that Jews held Palestinian ID's under the illegitimate British Mandate over "Palestine" [A title of occupation]. Therefore, manufacturing a Palestinian people while excluding Jews from their numbers is a logical fallacy at best and at worst anti semitic nonsense).
Suffice to say, to recast the parable of the good Samaritan as a modern anti-Israel propaganda piece titled “The Good Palestinian” is to misinform the modern reader, and misrepresent both the plan meaning of the parable of Yeshua and its spiritual message.
The parable of the good Samaritan intends to ignite reconciliation between Jews and their mixed blood brothers and sisters the Samaritans. It does not as many incorrectly presume, teach a general principle of love for one's enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). That principle is clearly taught elsewhere by the King Messiah and should be applied to our walk as His followers, but it is applied with the understanding that those being loved are "enemies" (Palestinians) and not "blood related estranged Israelites" (Samaritans).
The tragic irony here is that the misrepresentation of the parable makes it harder for many Jews to identify Yeshua as our King Messiah because the misappropriation of Yeshua’s parable is promoted by some of those who claim to know Jesus (certain Gentile Christians). People who clearly have little understanding of Yeshua's ethnic religious worldview and therefore present Him as some misshapen universal anti-Zionist hero rather than Who He is, the Messiah and reconciler of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen), the Zionist, and Saviour to all people who have and will receive Him.
The parable of the good Samaritan is a story of the restoration of the fullness of Israel. The Torah commandment it relates to concerns loving the ones who live among the people of Israel regardless of their bloodlines but the key is "neighbour" not "enemy". An enemy is not a "neighbour". In the context of the Torah command (Lev. 19:18), a neighbour was a fellow Israeli, a mixed blood Israeli, or a foreigner who lived and kept the peace within the wider community of Israel. The Biblical Hebrew word for neighbour being “rea”.
Therefore, “neighbour” cannot and does not apply to those who shout genocidal slogans like "From the river (Jordan) to the sea (Mediterranean) all Palestine will be free", and intentionally and actively seek to kill, maim, defile and destroy the people of Israel (ethnic, chosen, religious, empirical). We have another commandment for relating to those who want us dead. That is, "Love your enemies... pray for those who persecute you..." (Matt. 5:43-48).
To those who propagate the misrepresentation of the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus) I firmly warn, cease misrepresenting the teaching of Yeshua. It only serves to prove that you have little knowledge of Who He truly is. Repent and receive the true Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) the Jew, Israeli, and God with us.
That said, let’s approach our interpretation of the parable with the help of God’s Spirit and a contextual reading of the text submitted to the greatest of rabbis, the King Messiah.
The p’shat (plain meaning) of the parable is of great value to all who believe, and inspires a halakhah (practice) of chesed (practical love, grace, mercy). There is great depth of meaning to be plumbed in the surrounding culture, sociology and theology of this essential teaching. Therefore it’s good for us to take a deeper look at the hearers of the mashal and the characters described.
The Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37:
25 And an expert in the Torah (Instruction/Books of Moses) stood up and sought to prove Yeshua, saying, “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life (Olam habah)?”
In translating this section of Scripture, far too many English versions give room for anti semitic bias. The questioner here is often labelled as one who seeks to entrap Yeshua, the KJV for example mistranslates “a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him”, however the Greek text allows for a more natural reading.
It is in the nature and style of the Judaism of the first century, just as it is today, for an impromptu yeshivah (study/debate) to be initiated among learned people. This is the case here. The questioner is unsure as to Yeshua’s credentials and knowledge of the Torah and thus, he rightly reserves judgement by calling Him, “teacher (didaskalos),” rather than, “Rabbi (rabiy)”.
The expert in the Torah (most likely a Pharisee because for the Sadducee there is no discussion of halakhah [codified and applied contemporary action based on Torah] due to the fact that the Torah is the only inspired text and it’s literal meaning is the halakhah. On the other hand, “Torah expert” could denote a Sadducee, reliant only on the Torah and with no regard for the inspiration of the Prophets and Writings [TaNaKh]), is not trying to trap or disprove Yeshua, rather he is simply seeking to prove Him.
26 And Yeshua said to him, “What is written in the Torah? How do you read (understand) it?”
The dialogue continues in a respectful rabbinic manner as Yeshua returns question for question and gives the Torah expert an opportunity to prove his own knowledge.
27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength (Devarim/Deut 6:5), and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself (Vaiyekra/Leviticus 19:18).”
In fine rabbinic form the Torah expert answers using two primary texts from the Torah, that, while separated into different sections of the books of Moses, are nonetheless the product of the same Spirit. This is an insightful observation, one that commends him to Yeshua.
28 And Yeshua said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live”. (Bereishit/Genesis 42:17-19; Devarim/ Deut 32:46-48)
Yeshua answers succinctly, combining two key Scriptures into a single phrase “do this and you will live”. This He does in agreement with what the Torah expert has proposed.
The phrase, “Do this and you will live,” (Gen. 42:18) or, “By doing this you will prolong your life,” (Deut. 32:47), is found in two very important places in the Torah. Note that Yeshua, Who is fond of quoting the prophets and in particular Isaiah, chooses to answer in the vernacular of His questioner, speaking to him from within his own subject of expertise, the Torah.
The two passages from Torah that share the promise of life as fruit of obedience to God’s instruction are as follows:
17 So he put them all together in prison for three days. 18 Now Yoseph said to them on the third day, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God:19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in your prison; but as for the rest of you, go, carry grain for the famine which is upon your households, -Genesis 42:17-19
Joseph’s statement in Genesis 42:18 follows an allegorical period of three days matching the death and resurrection of Messiah and offers an avenue of repentant life to the house of Israel (his brothers).
The second passage Yeshua is inferring is:
46 he said to them, “Take to your heart (core being) all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this Torah. 47 For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.” -Deuteronomy 32:46-48
The instructions (the two primary commandments [Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18]) themselves are life (in God and toward one’s neighbour) and extend life (For all who live in the peace of God as a result of obedience to His Word). Thus, “Olam Haba (eternal life)”. In other words, Yeshua is saying:
“You know that the Torah says, ‘these are not just words, you must walk in them in order to walk in their life’, therefore, acting on these commands leads to eternal life.”
This answers the Torah expert’s question with a challenge. It’s not enough to have knowledge, he must also produce halakhah (action) that lives in that knowledge. This is consistent with Biblical Judaism, which sees no separation between faith and action. As I have stated many times, prior to the Hellenization of the known world there was no Hebrew word for theology (philosophising about God), because to the Biblical Hebrew belief devoid of action was unbelief. Yaakov the brother of Yeshua sums this up beautifully when he writes to the dispersed tribes of Israel saying:
“22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
25 But he who looks into the perfect Torah of freedom and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” -Yaakov (James) 1:22-25
The Torah expert, most likely of the P’rushim (Pharisaic sect) understands that halakhah (faith practiced) is an intrinsic part of Biblical Judaism. Yeshua is speaking to him in terms he can relate to. Alternatively, if as some suggest the title “Torah expert” refers to a Sadducee, then Yeshua is offering him an opportunity to develop a relevant halakhah that reflects his knowledge of Torah. Regardless of sect, all involved are Jews, the Samaritan albeit a mixed blood brother to the Pharisees and Sadducees.
29 But wishing to show himself righteous, he said to Yeshua, “And who is my neighbour?” (not shachein[H] but the Biblical Hebrew rea[H] which shares its meaning with the Greek plesion[G]: friend, fellow Israelite, person living in close proximity)
We shouldn’t be quick to pass judgement on the Torah expert, he is in fact asking a valid question for the time and his motivation is not unlike the motivation of any child trying to impress a father.
It’s worth considering that having heard the depth of wisdom in Yeshua’s voice the Torah expert wanted to show himself worthy of conversation with one Who he perceived to be a greater expert than himself.
The Hebrew language was going through a transitional period at this time in history and the Biblical Hebrew word, rea (neighbour) had a number of variant meanings, such as: friend, fellow Israelite, countryman, or a person living in close proximity. This is consistent with the Greek plesion. Neither word describes an enemy, nor does Yeshua imply such a meaning in this mashal (parable).
Yeshua now takes the impromptu yeshivah into the realm of the mashal (parable, teaching story). Yeshua’s story is crafted for the purpose of teaching, it may also be an account of an actual event. The Creator of the universe is able to invent a story and have it be literally true, all in the same breath. In fact, that is how creation is described in the book of Genesis. We are a story of the Creator.
30 Yeshua replied saying, “A man was going down from Jerusalem (raining/flooding peace[H]) to Jericho (fragrant mouth[G], moon[H]), and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And a priest happened (sugkuria[G] random, by chance) to be going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Notice that Yeshua calls the victim “a man”. While the victim could be any man, which is an important part of the principle being conveyed, he is nonetheless most likely to be a fellow Levite, given that this parable takes place on the road to Jericho (approx. 30 km north-east of Jerusalem, a journey of descent), a first century Levitical town*.
Both the priest and the Levite are bound by the Torah instructions concerning ritual uncleanness through association with the dead (Lev. 21:1-17). It is quite possible, given that the man was badly beaten and left for dead, that they thought the man to be dead, slain by the sword of a bandit? (Num. 19:16). While this is not an excuse for failing to check on him and help him, it is nonetheless a reasonable supposition.
They are going down from Jerusalem, meaning that they had finished their temple service and were probably returning home. It is also important to understand that the majority of the priests and Levites of the time were Sadusiym (Sadducees), they didn’t acknowledge the validity of the Oral Torah (Mishnah), which rightly places the sanctity of life above all but the instruction to love and worship God alone. It is always the case in Torah that the greater commandment supersedes the lesser. In this case, to help a wounded or dying person supersedes the command for ritual purity.
Many, seeking to obey the letter of the Torah, fail to keep the spirit of Torah and thus become breakers of Torah.
*The Talmud Bavliy notes Jericho as a centre for half (12 of 24) the priestly divisions of the first century:
"the former prophets appointed twenty and four courses; and for every course there was a station at Jerusalem, of priests, and of Levites, and of Israelites; and when the time of the course came to go up, the priests and Levites went up to Jerusalem. The Rabbonim teach, that there were twenty four courses in the land of Israel, and there were twelve at Jericho.'' - Talmud Bavliy Taanit, fol. 27. 1.
33 But a Shomroniy (Samaritan: hedge about with protection, guardians, keepers), who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,
The Samaritan, like the Sadusiym, accepted only the books of Moses as inspired and also observed ritual purity laws, yet he was obviously reminded of the greater meaning of the Biblical Hebrew word rea[H] (neighbour, friend, countryman). The compassion or chesed
(practical love, grace) he felt toward his neighbour, regardless of ethno-religious identity, was inspired by the Spirit Who inspired the Torah and is therefore an indictment against those who, having the Torah, had failed to live by the greater commandment to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).
34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own donkey, and brought him to a place of lodging and took care of him.
Some read symbolism into the oil and wine. If the hearers understood symbolism here (which is unlikely) they may have understand oil as a symbol of priestly anointing and the wine as a symbol of prosperity. However, the parable does not seek to convey allegorical symbolism but a practical application of loving kindness toward one’s neighbour. The oil and wine were valuable commodities and the use of them shows the generous spirit behind the Shomroniy’s actions.
The plain meaning in modern terms would be, “he cleansed the wounds with antiseptic (alcohol/wine) and sealed them with ointment/antibiotic salve (oil) and covered them (bandages) so that they wouldn’t get infected. Turns out the Shomroniy was prepared for injuries obtained while journeying in the ancient Levant. He had his first aid certification.
The place of lodging may well have been located in the nearby first century Levitical town of Jericho (Samaritans rarely travelled to Jerusalem because Mt Gerizim was the centre of their cult of worship) where the priest and the Levite had been heading. Thus, the Shomroniy entered a town where there was at least some animosity toward him, given that Shomroniym were considered to some degree part of a cult, apostate. What’s more he remained with the victim until he was sure that he would live.
35 On the next day he took out two denarii (two days’ wages) and gave them to the proprietor and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’
This Shomroniy (Samaritan) not only helps the injured man in the short term, he also invests in his complete healing at great cost to himself. This is perhaps one of the minor aspects of the mashal that we often overlook. How great is our love for our neighbour? How far will we go? Are we prepared to sacrifice wages in order to pay for a hospital stay or other essential services?
Consider that the Shomroniy acts out the meaning of his ethnic title in the most godly sense. Shomron being from the root Shomer[H] (guard, keep, observe). He illuminates what it truly means to be a “guardian”. A guardian of godly faith in practice.
36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbour, friend, countryman to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And the Torah expert said, “The one who showed mercy (chesed: practical love, grace) toward him.” Then Yeshua said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Notice the different emphasis in the question Yeshua asks. Formerly the Torah expert had asked, “Who is my neighbour,” meaning, “Who is a neighbour to me?” Now Yeshua places the emphasis on the subject, saying, “Which of these three showed himself to be a neighbour?” In other words, “You’re asking the wrong question, it’s not a case of who is a neighbour to you but how are you being a neighbour to others?” Add to this the fact that while the Torah expert is asking for a definition of the Hebrew rea (neighbour) that conveys one of its three possible contemporary meanings, Yeshua, being a good Jewish Rebbe
Himself, poses a fourth possibility, “Anybody who is not your enemy, is your neighbour.”
The Torah expert answers correctly again, however he fails to name the Samaritan. Perhaps this is why Yeshua, rather than saying, “You have answered correctly.” As He had previously (v.28) instead says, “Go and do likewise.” In fact, Yeshua is repeating His former statement, “Do this and you will live,” or, “In these words you will find life.” In other words, “Do what the Torah requires, practice what you preach” and, “Start by naming the Shomroniy, your half-brother”.
I’m certain that the next time this Torah expert met Yeshua, he called Him Rabbi—My Great One.
“22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect Torah of freedom and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” -Yaakov (James) 1:22-25
© 2021 Yaakov Brown
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Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,