How marvelous it would have been to have seen Yeshua teach! Ok, so I said that already. If this is your first article from the series on the The Beatitudes, I suggest that you go back and start with The “Real” Good News, and then progress through the series in order. Never-the-less, if we would have had the opportunity, we would have heard Yeshua say, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth!”, (although He would have said it in Aramaic.)
First I think that it is important to note here that in referring to the earth, Yeshua actually confirms out earlier conclusion; that basileia ton ouranos (which is translated in the bible as the ‘kingdom of heaven’) is more correctly translated as the ‘knowledge of happiness’. (See The “Real” Good News.) After all, if He is teaching about the kingdom of heaven, and then saying that the meek will only get the earth; that would make those who are meek seem like second class citizens in the kingdom. While this certainly doesn’t make much sense, it makes even less sense if you consider that Yeshua was probably one of the meekest of all of us. However, with the alternative definition of basileia ton ouranos, we don’t have to make a distinction between people who will either go to heaven, or inherit the earth. This distinction becomes unnecessary because the meek can both inherit the earth, and have the knowledge of happiness!
The Beatitude reads “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” As I usually do, I started out at blueletterbible.org, (there is a link on the links page), looking up the different translations of the verse, followed by going into the website’s lexicon entry for ‘meek’. The Greek word praus is defined as “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness”. The lexicon entry also contains an explanation of what it means to be meek or have gentleness of spirit. While I found that I disagree with most of the explanation, one phrase did jump out at me; the diamond in the rough – so to speak. The phrase that caught my attention was this: “The gentle person is not occupied with ‘self’ at all”.
This phrase helps us point out an important consideration regarding the interpretation of the words like ‘meek’. When the Greek word praus was translated as ‘meek’ almost 400 years ago, the word meek most likely communicated different ideas than it does now. Today meekness is often understood as timid-ness or weakness. This is not what Yeshua was trying to communicate.
Oftentimes, a person who has learned to be gentle has learned to have a higher level of self-control than the person who has not learned to be gentle. When we consider this fact in conjunction with the phrase we noted in the lexicon entry, (“The gentle person is not occupied with ‘self’ at all”) it seems that once again, we find Yeshua teaching the same lessons as Paul did later on in his letters. Because if the gentle person is not occupied with self, this is probably because they are learning to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs. This doesn’t describe a timid or weak person. This describes a person who is learning to master the lower self, or natural man, with an inner, spiritual strength. This describes a person who is learning to become spiritual man! This person would be blessed indeed, or so we would assume; Yeshua tells us that this assumption is correct. This would be a wonderful understanding to have, not only that we have been blessed with the knowledge of happiness, but also that by being gentle, and putting the needs of others ahead of our own needs, we will…
…inherit the earth? In a song from his album, “The Soul Cages”, Sting (the popular musician) also seems to refer to this Beatitude when he sings “What good is a used up world, and how could it be worth having?” But instead of this pessimistic view of the state of God’s creation, I think that this would be a better question: What does it mean to “inherit the earth”? My first thought was that this happens as the ‘non-gentle’ people engage in their own self-destruction, through the destruction of the other non-gentle people. When they are all gone, (having mutually destroyed themselves,) only the gentle people will remain. I quickly dismissed this idea, because it just doesn’t make sense. (For one thing, what about all of the gentle people who the non-gentle people destroy in the process?) So the question remains: What does it mean to inherit the earth? Once again, we need more information. What exactly is meant, by the word inherit?
It turns out that the word inherit comes down to us from the Greek word kleronomeo. Most of the definitions of this word seem to involve receiving, but one of the definitions is different; it reads: “to become a partaker of, to obtain”. Like many of you I suspect, I don’t use the word partake very often in everyday conversation, so I thought it would be good to look it up in the dictionary; doing this leads us to the word participate. We saw before with the word ouranos, that Yeshua is teaching us about living within our daily circumstances. Here, with the word kleronomeo, He is doing the same thing, again. Instead of using the word kleronomeo to indicate some indefinite event which may take place in the future, such as inheriting the earth, He is referring to specific events which take place in the here and now – our participation in everyday life.
Let’s look at the phrase we got from the lexicon entry again, which says “the gentle person is not occupied with ‘self’ at all”. If this is a person who has learned to be spiritual man, or in higher self, then our understanding of this person is that they have learned to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs. But how do we put learn to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs? This Beatitude gives us a big clue to help us answer this question: participation. Think for a moment about Yeshua’s parable of The Good Samaritan. The obvious difference between the Pharisee, the Levite, and the Samaritan was that the Samaritan decided to participate in the situation of the man who was left for dead, putting the victim’s needs ahead of his own.
In his first letter, John explains it this way. He writes that “God is love; if you live in love, you live in Him, and He lives in you.” (1st John 4:16b) The logical follow-up question to this verse is this: What does it mean to live in love? To answer this, we can point to Yeshua’s 3rd Beatitude. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”; but this interpretation doesn’t answer the question. What does it mean to live in love? We can answer the question if we interpret the 3rd Beatitude like this: You live in love, and also in the Father’s joy, when you actively participate in life, by putting the needs of others ahead of your own!”
Grace and peace to you all,