Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood...

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

A long condemnation of the religious leaders of the time

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

So on it might show up upon you, all blood of virtue, being drained upon the earth, from the blood of Abel of that virtue until the blood of Zacharias, a son of Barachias? That you murdered between the temple and the altar.

My Takeaway: 

Blood stains should not be forgotten.

KJV : 

Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

NIV : 

Matthew 23:35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

What is Lost in Translation: 

The A-Z (Abel to Zechariah) play on words would have to be a reference to the Latin, not Greek, alphabet.The Z is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet. The letter "z" was dropped in 300 BC from Latin, considered archaic, but then added again in the first century BC at the end because of its use in Greek, whose loan words were migrating to Latin. When it was added again, it became the Z is not the last letter of the Latin alphabet.

Jesus is making a serious charge here, but clearly having fun with it as well. However, there is a question about what kind of fun he is having. Historically, people debate about the meaning here and about whether of not Jesus made a mistake in citing the wrong Zecharia (sooo specifically), never considering that Jesus may have been having fun with the confusion among the different people named Zecharia in the Old Testament, two of which had a father of similar names, the usual way individuals with the same name were separated in Jesus's time.

Couple of other word plays here. The word translated as "slew" also means "to stain with blood" on obvious connection  all the blood in the verse. The word translated as "shed" actually means "to pour out," also referring to blood, but it also means  "to be forgotten" perhaps the basis of the Zacharia joke above, as memory and history are the topic here. The word play connects the idea of blood pouring out and virtue being forgotten. All of this is, of course, lost in translation.

Wordplay: 

The play on blood pouring out and virtue being drained out.

Abel to  Zachariah is a play on the fact that they are the first and last virtuous figures killed in the OT. The Jewish Old Testament ended with Chronicles 2. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὅπως [14 verses](conj) "That" is hopos, which is a conjunction that means "in such a manner as," "in order that," "in the manner in which," "how," [with negative] "there is no way that," and [in questions] "in what way."

ἔλθῃ [198 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj) "May come" is erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out," "to come," "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

ἐπὶ [138 verses](prep) "Upon" is from epi. which means "on," "upon," "at," "by," "before," "across," and "against."

ὑμᾶς [210 verses](pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is from humas which is the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you." -- The "you" here is plural, indicating many of Christ's listeners.

πᾶν [212 verses](adj sg neut nom) "All" is from pas, which means "all," "the whole," "every," "anyone," "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way," "on every side," "in every way," and "altogether."

αἱμα [12 verses](noun sg neut nom) "The blood" is haima (haima), which means "blood," "streams of blood," "anything like blood," "spirit," "courage," "bloodshed," "murder," "blood relationship,"kin," and "kindship."

δίκαιον [21 verses](adj sg masc gen ) "The righteous" is dikaios which means "observant of rules," "observant of customs," "well-ordered," "civilized," and "observant of duty." Later it means "well-balanced," "impartial," and "just." As a verb, it means to "set right," "hold or deem right," "claim or demand as a right," "pronounce judgment," "do a man right or justice," "chastise," "punish, and in passive, "have right done one."

ἐκχυννόμενον [8 verses](part sg pres mp masc acc) "Shed" is ekcheo, which means to "pour out," "pour away," " spill," "squander," "waste," "spread out," "throw down," and, as a metaphor, "to be cast away," "forgotten," "give oneself up to any emotion," and "to be overjoyed."

ἐπὶ [138 verses](prep)  "Upon" is from epi. which means "on," "upon," "at," "by," "before," "across," and "against."

τῆς [821 verses](article sg fem gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

γῆς [59 verses](noun sg fem gen) "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth," "land (country)," "arable land," "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

ἀπὸ [190 verses]​(prep) "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg neut gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

αἵματος (noun sg neut gen) "The blood" is haima (haima), which means "blood," "streams of blood," "anything like blood," "spirit," "courage," "bloodshed," "murder," "blood relationship,"kin," and "kindship."

Ἅβελ [3 verses](Hebrew Name) "Abel" is from Abel, which is the Hebrew name for Adam's second son. It means "transitory" and is a metaphor for "vanity." As with most biblical names, it is not in the form of a Greek word.

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg masc gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

δικαίου [21 verses]((adj sg masc gen) "The righteous" is from dikaios which means "observant of rules," "observant of customs," "well-ordered," "civilized," and "observant of duty." Later it means "well-balanced," "impartial," and "just." As a verb, it means to "set right," "hold or deem right," "claim or demand as a right," "pronounce judgment," "do a man right or justice," "chastise," "punish, and in passive, "have right done one."

ἕως [63 verses](conj) "Unto" is from heos which means "until," "till," and "in order that" and "up to the point that."

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg neut gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

αἵματος (noun sg neut gen) "The blood" is haima (haima), which means "blood," "streams of blood," "anything like blood," "spirit," "courage," "bloodshed," "murder," "blood relationship,"kin," and "kindship." -- "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood," "bloodshed," and "kinship." Clearly, it is used here because of the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

Ζαχαρίου [3 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Zacharias" is from Zacharias, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Zechariah.

υἱοῦ [158 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Christ also used it metaphorically to describe those that follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

Βαραχίου, [1 verse](noun sg masc gen) "Barachias" is from Barachias, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Berechiah."

ὅν [294 verses](pron sg masc acc) "Whom" is from hos, which means "this," "that," "he," "she," "which," "what," "who," "whosoever," "where," "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἐφονεύσατε [6 verses](verb 2nd pl aor ind act) "Ye slew" is phoneuō, which means "to kill," "to murder," "to be slain [passive], and "to stain with blood."

μεταξὺ [4 verses](adv)"Between" is metaxy, which means "in the midst" and therefore (of Place) "between," (of Time) "meanwhile," (of Qualities) "intermediate," and (of Degree) "the difference." As a preposition, it takes the genitive case and has the sense of "between" to parties to an agreement or discussion.

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg masc agen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ναοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "The temple" is from naos, which means "temple," "inmost part of a temple," "shrine," and "portable shrine carried in processions."

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even," "also," and "just."

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg masc agen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θυσιαστηρίου. [7 verses](noun sg neut gen) "The altar" is from thysiastērion , which means "altar." It is a derivative of thysia, which means "sacrifice" or "victim."

KJV Analysis: 

That  - The word translated as "that" is one of those Greek words that introduce a new phrase that offers an explanation. It can be translated as a dependent clause, but if we start a new sentence with it, we get fewer run-on sentences. We would usually say "So..."

upon  - The word translated as "upon" means "against," "before," "by" or "on."

you -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.

may -- This helping verb "may" indicates that the verb indicates a possibility. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

come  - The word translated as "may come" primarily means "to start out." It indicates movement, especially beginning of a move, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." This is in a form that indicates something that might happen.

all  - The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way," "on every side," and "altogether."

the -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source. The same article is left out below before "righteous."

righteous  - The word translated as "righteous" either be the adjective that means "observant of the rules," "virtuous" and "just." Jesus often uses it as a noun, but usually in the plural, referring to a group of people. Here, it is singular and in the possessive, modifying "blood" below. It follows "blood" so "of virtue."

blood  - "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood," "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship. It is modified by the "all" above.

shed  - (CW, WF) The Greek word translated as "shed" means "to pour out," and "spill," but it is a metaphor for "to be forgotten" and to be "overcome with emotion." It is in the participle form that modifies "virtue," but not "blood," but it is a play on the word "blood," so the sense is "to be forgotten." It is passive and present, so  "being poured out" makes the following phrase "upon the earth" have the double meaning of "one the ground."

upon  - The word translated as "unto" means "against," "before," "by" or "on."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

earth,  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as the world. See this article for more on these words. Like our word "earth" it also means "dirt." The "ground" is where the blood poured out onto.

from  - The word translated as "from" means "from" referring to a location, a time, and a source. Here, it is a play on two meanings: the time and the source of the blood.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

blood  - "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood," "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more.  Since "righteous" follows "Abel" the sense is "the virtuous one."

righteous  - The word translated as "of righteous" means "observant of the rules," "virtuous" and "just." Jesus often uses it as a noun, but usually in the plural, referring to a group of people. Here, it is singular and in the possessive, modifying "blood" below. He also uses it commonly to refers to his opponents who "appear" righteous. It is an adjective here, modifying "Abel."

Abel  - Abel is the Hebrew name, not a Greek version, of the second son of Adam and Eve. The form is not a Greek word, but we can infer that it is possessive from the form of "righteous."

unto  - (CW) The word translated as "unto" means "until" but it also means "in order that." The clear meaning here is "until the time. "

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

blood  - "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood," "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

Zacharias  - "Zacharias" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Zechariah. Unlike "Abel" it has a normal Greek word ending. There are three Zechariahs in the OT, 1) Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, "one of two witnesses to Isaiah's prophecy, 2) Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the minor prophet who wrote the book of the same name, and Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, a priest who is slain in the book of Chronicles.

son  - The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

Barachias,  - "Barachias" is from the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Berechiah." Berachiah was the father of the prophet Zechariah. However, Berachiah, is a form of the name, Je-bereachiah, the father of the witness to Isaiah, a confusing and entertaining Biblical coincidence, which Jesus seems to be poking fun at.

whom -- The word translated as "whom" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

ye -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

slew  - "Slew" is from the Greek word for "murder," and killing in a way the stains the murder with blood. This is not the same word as "kill" in the previous verse.

between  - The "between" the sense of "between" to parties to an agreement or discussion.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

temple  - The word translated as "temple" means "temple," "the inner room of the temple," and "shrine." This is an uncommon word for Christ to use. It is different emotionally from our term "church" or even "cathedral" because there was only one temple, the one in Jerusalem.

and  - -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

altar.  - The word for "altar" means "altar" but an altar wasn't a table in Christ's time. It was a grill with a fire under it for burning sacrifices.

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "shed" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "shed" is not an active verb but a participle, "pouring out."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "righteous" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "unto" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

NIV Analysis: 

And -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "and" in the Greek source.

so - The word translated as "that" is one of those Greek words that introduce a new phrase that offers an explanation. It can be translated as a dependent clause, but if we start a new sentence with it, we get fewer run-on sentences. We would usually say "So..."

upon  - The word translated as "upon" means "against," "before," "by" or "on."

you -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.

will -- (WW) This helping  verb indicates that the verb is the future tense, but it isn't. It is in the form of possibility so it needs a "should" or "might."

come  - The word translated as "may come" primarily means "to start out." It indicates movement, especially beginning of a move, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." This is in a form that indicates something that might happen.

all  - The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way," "on every side," and "altogether."

the -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source. The same article is left out below before "righteous."

righteous  - The word translated as "righteous" either be the adjective that means "observant of the rules," "virtuous" and "just." Jesus often uses it as a noun, but usually in the plural, referring to a group of people. Here, it is singular and in the possessive, modifying "blood" below. It follows "blood" so "of virtue."

blood  - "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood," "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship. It is modified by the "all" above.

that -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source.

has (WT) This helping verb "has" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here, which is present.

been  - This helping verb "been" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

shed  - (CW, WF) The Greek word translated as "shed" means "to pour out," and "spill," but it is a metaphor for "to be forgotten" and to be "overcome with emotion." It is in the participle form that modifies "virtue," but not "blood," but it is a play on the word "blood," so the sense is "to be forgotten." "Pouring out" makes the following phrase "upon the earth" have the double meaning of "one the ground."

on  - The word translated as "unto" means "against," "before," "by" or "on."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more.  Since "righteous" follows "Abel" the sense is "the virtuous one."

earth,  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as the world. See this article for more on these words. Like our word "earth" it also means "dirt." The "ground" is where the blood poured out onto.

from  - The word translated as "from" means "from" referring to a location, a time, and a source. Here, it is a play on two meanings: the time and the source of the blood.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

blood  - "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood," "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more.  Since "righteous" follows "Abel" the sense is "the virtuous one."

righteous  - The word translated as "of righteous" means "observant of the rules," "virtuous" and "just." Jesus often uses it as a noun, but usually in the plural, referring to a group of people. Here, it is singular and in the possessive, modifying "blood" below. He also uses it commonly to refers to his opponents who "appear" righteous. It is an adjective here, modifying "Abel."

Abel  - Abel is the Hebrew name, not a Greek version, of the second son of Adam and Eve. The form is not a Greek word, but we can infer that it is possessive from the form of "righteous."

to  - (CW) The word translated as "unto" means "until" but it also means "in order that." The clear meaning here is "until the time. "

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

blood  - "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood," "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

Zachariah  - "Zachariah" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Zechariah. Unlike "Abel" it has a normal Greek word ending. There are three Zechariahs in the OT, 1) Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, "one of two witnesses to Isaiah's prophecy, 2) Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the minor prophet who wrote the book of the same name, and Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, a priest who is slain in the book of Chronicles.

son  - The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

Barachiah,  - "Barachiah" is from the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Berechiah." Berachiah was the father of the prophet Zechariah. However, Berachiah, is a form of the name, Je-bereachiah, the father of the witness to Isaiah, a confusing and entertaining Biblical coincidence, which Jesus seems to be poking fun at.

whom -- The word translated as "whom" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

you -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

murdered - "Slew" is from the Greek word for "murder," and killing in a way the stains the murder with blood. This is not the same word as "kill" in the previous verse.

between  - The "between" the sense of "between" to parties to an agreement or discussion.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

temple  - The word translated as "temple" means "temple," "the inner room of the temple," and "shrine." This is an uncommon word for Christ to use. It is different emotionally from our term "church" or even "cathedral" because there was only one temple, the one in Jerusalem.

and  - -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

altar.  - The word for "altar" means "altar" but an altar wasn't a table in Christ's time. It was a grill with a fire under it for burning sacrifices.

NIV Translation Issues: 

10
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "will" should be something more like "may."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "has" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is the present..

  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "shed" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "shed" is not an active verb but a participle, "pouring out."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "earth" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "righteous" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "to" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

Front Page Date: 

Aug 26 2021