Re: Mt 19:17

> On Wed, 26 Oct 1994, Philip L. Graber wrote:
> > The man asks what good he must do have eternal life. Jesus' answer is,
> > "Why do you need to ask? There _is_ only one good. If you want eternal
> > life, keep the commandments" (loose paraphrase). The point of Jesus'
> > response in Matthew seems to be that Torah is good, and the only good
> > thing to do, in this context, is to keep Torah. My question is this: are
> > there GRAMMATICAL grounds for translating the clause in question as the
> > English translations all do ("there is One who is good")? 
> Fascinating idea.  The only question I would have is why Jesus would 
> consider the Torah "one" when he broke it down into numerous commandments 
> even in this very passage - the 10 commandments, and elsewhere 
> broke it down into two commandments.
I've often wondered if this is related to the concept of zekhut (I
hope I spelled that right) which appears in later Rabbinical writings.
My papers on this are at home, so I winging it here. One of the stories
told about zekhut is roughly as follows. A certain disreputable man,
I think he was a pimp, can pray for rain and it rains. The rabbis 
can't do this, so they ask him what deed has he done so that his prayers
are answered. He says that one day he found a woman crying and asked
her what was wrong. She replied that she needs money to free her husband
who is in prison. (The implication is that she is about to engage in
prostitution.) The man takes pity on her and sells his bedding, gives
her the money and she frees her husband. The rabbis acknowledge that
this man is worthy to pray and have his prayers answered.

What happened was the man engaged in an action which was above and beyond
the call of duty, above anything required in any commandment, hence heaven,
i.e. God, responds in kind.  I often think the man's question to Jesus was
along the lines of "what single individual act will win me favour with
God such that I am guaranteed a place in heaven?" Jesus tells him to
keep the commandments, which he claims he had done, but which he recognises
as simply doing what is expect of him and earns him no merit. Jesus
then tells him to sell everything he has and give to the poor, clearly
an action not mandated by any commandment of Torah. 

Was Jesus sympathic to the concept of zekhut as this passage might suggest?

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