What's the Mishnah, and what does "Mishnah" mean anyway? ✡ Mishnah Snapshots 1

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Published on Dec 1, 2017
Watch series here: http://www.holylanguage.com/mishnah.php

The Mishnah.

Surrounded by urban legends, everyone has an opinion on it - but few have actually read it.

Jesus kept it, the Romans outlawed it, the entire Talmud is commentary on it, and Judaism today is based on it.

The Mishnah and the New Testament come from the same Jewish world - and they have more in common than you would think.

Welcome to my new series, Mishnah Snapshots - looking specifically at how the Mishnah sheds light on the New Testament.

These startlingly personal glimpses of Yeshua of Nazareth through the lens of ancient Jewish law won't just give you a new perspective on the Bible - they'll make your relationship with Yeshua, and with his Jewish people, better than ever.

If you like explosions, you're going to love these lessons - because we're going to be blowing urban legends out of the water at every turn.

So sit down and pay attention, because this:

Before we start looking at these specific intersections between the Mishnah and the New Testament, we're going to take a couple lessons to talk about what the Mishnah is all about.

What exactly is the Mishnah - and what does the word "Mishnah" mean, anyway?

How was the Mishnah developed...and why?

What did Yeshua think about the Mishnah, and how does that affect us?

And, isn't Mishnah oral law or something? This isn't about dental hygiene, is it?

What does Mishnah actually mean?

The word Mishnah doesn't actually mean "oral law" - it literally means "repetition". Mishnah comes from the verb shanah, from which we also get the number two - shnaim. This probably refers to how the Mishnah was originally transmitted - it was taught word of mouth, and repeated until it was memorized.

"Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about." (Genesis 41:32)
וְעַל הִשָּׁנוֹת הַחֲלוֹם אֶל־פַּרְעֹה פַּעֲמָיִם כִּי־נָכוֹן הַדָּבָר מֵעִם הָאֱלֹהִים וּמְמַהֵר הָאֱלֹהִים לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ

"Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests." (Deuteronomy 17:18)
וְהָיָה כְשִׁבְתּוֹ עַל כִּסֵּא מַמְלַכְתּוֹ וְכָתַב לוֹ אֶת־מִשְׁנֵה הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת עַל־סֵפֶר מִלִּפְנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם

Considering that Mishnah is related to the Hebrew word for two, it's probably not suprising that Mishnah also means "second".

He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, "Bow the knee!" And he set him over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:43)
וַיַּרְכֵּב אֹתוֹ בְּמִרְכֶּבֶת הַמִּשְׁנֶה אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ וַיִּקְרְאוּ לְפָנָיו אַבְרֵךְ וְנָתוֹן אֹתוֹ עַל כָּל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם

Why is the Mishnah referred to as "second"? Because, as the preface to the Mishnah published by Judaica Press in 1964 states, "The Mishnah is second in importance to the Torah".

So your first big takeaway is that the Hebrew word Mishnah means both repetition - I repeat, it means repetition - and secondly, it means second. The second meaning is that it means second.

And a bonus takeaway? The word "Mishnah" doesn't actually mean "oral law" - that's something of an urban myth.

What is the Mishnah?

Essentially, the Mishnah is the earliest historical record of how the Jewish people interpreted and applied the Torah.

Much of the Mishnah is case law - a legal question is raised, differing opinions are noted, and finally a majority decision is reached.

Sometimes a precedent is also listed - either the specific situation prompting the question, or a case illustrating it. This is called a ma'aseh, from the verb asah - to act or do. The plural of ma'aseh is ma'asim.

As a side note, this gives us a fuller understanding of the Acts of the Apostles, which in Hebrew is called the Ma'asei ha'Shlichim - the ma'asim of the shaliachs. Notably, the book of Acts contains several precedents and legal decisions arrived at by the sages of the early Messianic community.

An order is called a seder, plural sdarim. A tractate is a masechet, plural masechtot. A chapter is a perek, plural prakim. And a verse is a mishna, plural mishnayot. A verse is also called a halacha, plural halachot.

Throughout the Mishnah, a distinction is made between the written Torah and the oral Torah!

The written Torah is referred to as the Torah she'bichtav - "the Torah which is in writing". Rulings which come directly from the Torah are called mi'd'Orayta in Aramaic, and min ha'Torah in Hebrew, both of which mean "from the Torah".


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