FIRST CENTURY TECHNICAL TERMS

by nazarene 

Aleppo Codex (Fragment of Deuteronomy)

The Scriptures sometimes use technical terminology. A technical term is a word that has a specialized meaning relating to a specialized area.
Below are some examples of a technical term being employed in the Scriptures with supporting evidence from outside writers demonstrating their usage also;

THE FAST

Acts 27:9 
9 And much time having passed, and the voyage already being dangerous, because the Fast already had gone by, Paul warned them

The term ‘The Fast’ is a technical term relating to the Day of Atonement, Philo also writing in the first century uses this term in describing the Day of Atonement;

Spec. 2:41
41 I. Now there are ten festivals in number, as the law sets them down. The first is that which any one will perhaps be astonished to hear called a festival. This festival is every day. The second festival is the seventh day, which the Hebrews in their native language call the sabbath. The third is that which comes after the conjunction, which happens on the day of the new moon in each month. The fourth is that of the passover which is called the pascha. The fifth is the first fruits of the corn– the sacred sheaf. The sixth is the feast of unleavened bread, after which that festival is celebrated, which is really the seventh day of seventh days. The eighth is the festival of the sacred moon, or the feast of trumpets. The ninth is the fast. The tenth is the feast of tabernacles, which is the last of all the annual festivals, ending so as to make the perfect number of ten. We must now begin with the first festival.


PASSOVER AND THE EAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD: COMBINED AS ONE FEAST

In the first century Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were combined together and collectively could be called the Feast of Unleavened Bread;

Mark 14:12 
12 And on the first day of the Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover, His disciples said to Him, Where do You desire that going we may prepare that You may eat the Passover?

Here in Mark the Passover lamb has not yet been slain yet it says it is the first day of unleavened bread, this is because in the first century both Feasts were combined together into one, as Josephus writing also in the first century shows;

Antiquities of the Jews 2:317
317 Hence it is that, in memory of the want we were then in, we keep a feast for eight days, which is called the feast of unleavened bread. Now the entire multitude of those who went out, including the women and children, was not easy to be numbered; but those who were of an age fit for war, were six hundred thousand.


WOE TO YOU

Matthew 23:15 
15 `Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye go round the sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and whenever it may happen--ye make him a son of gehenna twofold more than yourselves.

The phrase ‘woe to you‘ was used in sectarian disputes. Below is an example of the phrase being used in relation to one such dispute, even though the word ‘heretic’ is used [a min in hebrew], it denotes a different form of judaism of the opponent, a gentile would not be called a heretic, so it gives us insight to the kind of language that was employed in the first century when disputes between sects arose, notice carefully that both use the phrase ‘woe to you‘;

The Gemara relates that a certain heretic said to Geviha ben Pesisa:

Woe unto you, the wicked, as you say: The dead will come to life. The way of the world is that those who are alive die. How can you say that the dead will come to life? Geviha ben Pesisa said to him: Woe unto you, the wicked, as you say: The dead will not come to life. If those who were not in existence come to life, is it not reasonable all the more so that those who were once alive will come to life again? The heretic said to Geviha ben Pesisa angrily: You called me wicked? If I stand, I will kick you and flatten your hump, as Geviha ben Pesisa was a hunchback. Geviha ben Pesisa said to him jocularly: If you do so, you will be called an expert doctor and will take high wages for your services.
T. Sanhedrin 91.a

Matthew 19:3 
3 Then the Pharisees came unto him, tempting him and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any cause?

ANY CAUSE

In the first century there was an ‘any cause‘ divorce, it permitted a man to divorce his wife for any reason, and so when Yeshua is asked a question in Matthew 19:3 the technical term ‘any cause‘ was used.

Below demonstrates how this ‘any cause‘ was used;

Beit Shammai say,

“No man shall divorce his wife, unless he found in her unchaste behaviour, as it is stated [Deuteronomy 24:1], ‘Because he found in her ‘ervat davar‘ [unchaste behaviour].'”

 Beit Hillel say,

“Even if she spoiled his food, because it is said, ervat davar”
mGit.9:10

The word ‘davar’ means matter or thing, and so the ruling of the house of Hillel was that a divorce could be for any matter or thing. When Yeshua is asked about the any cause divorce, it was being asked because there was a debate if divorce could be granted for any reason.

Josephus in the first century also uses this phrase ‘any cause’ in relation to divorce;

Antiquities of the Jews 4:253
253 He that desires to be divorced from his wife for
any cause whatever, (and many such causes happen among men,) let him in writing give assurance that he will never use her as his wife any more; for by this means she may be at liberty to marry another husband, although before this bill of divorce be given, she is not to be permitted so to do: but if she be misused by him also, or if, when he is dead, her first husband would marry her again, it shall not be lawful for her to return to him.


THE OX

1Corinthians 9:9
 9 For it has been written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox treading out grain." Deut. 25:4 Is it that it matters to God as to oxen?

The apostle Paul uses an ox in his argument dealing with humans. In the first century ‘ox’ was being used as a technical term, shorthand for animal and human servants. Below the king and slave spoken of are equated to an owner and his ox.

The Gemara asks:

But what is the reason that others do not judge the kings of Israel? It is because of an incident that happened, as the slave of Yannai the king killed a person. Shimon ben Shataḥ said to the Sages: Put your eyes on him and let us judge him. They sent word to Yannai: Your slave killed a person. Yannai sent the slave to them. They sent word to Yannai: You also come here, as the verse states with regard to an ox that gored a person to death: “He should be testified against with his owner” (Exodus 21:29). The Torah stated: The owner of the ox should come and stand over his ox. b. Sanhedrin 19a


SON OF DAVID

Matthew 21:9 
9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

The term ‘son of David‘ is a technical term meaning the Mashiach, the King.

Psalms of Shlomo also uses this term, in chapter 17 [most likely written around the time of the first century];

Behold, O Lord, and raise up unto them their king, the son of David,
At the time in the which Thou seest, O God, that he may reign over Israel Thy servant.

TO BIND AND LOOSE

Matthew 16:19 
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

To bind and loose were technical terms relating to forbidding and permitting, this would have to power to bind or release people, the language of binding and loosing is in Josephus and later in the mishnah;

The Jewish War 1:111
111 Now Alexandra listened to them to an extraordinary degree, as being herself a woman of great piety toward God. But these Pharisees artfully insinuated themselves into her favour by little and little, and became themselves the real administrators of the public affairs: they banished and reduced whom they pleased; they bound and loosed [men] at their pleasure; and, to say all at once, they had the enjoyment of the royal authority, while the expenses and the difficulties of it belonged to Alexandra.

“Masters of Assemblies.” These are the disciples of wise men, who sit by companies and study in the Law, some declaring unclean and others declaring clean, some binding and others loosing, some disqualifying and others pronouncing ceremonially pure.
Hagigah 3

DELIVERED AND RECIEVED

1 Corinthians 15:3 
3 For I delivered to you from the first, as I had received it; that the Messiah died on account of our sins, as it is written:

Both terms ‘delivered’ and ‘received’ are technical terms relating to authoritative tradition that has been received and accurately relayed.

Moshe received the Torah [including the ethical teachings that follow in this Tractate] from [He, that revealed Himself, at] Sinai, and transmitted it to Yehoshua, and Yehoshua to the Elders [who immediately proceeded him], and the Elders to the Prophets [who proceeded them] and the Prophets handed it down to the [120 Sages] members of the Great Assembly [who included Zerubavel, Nehemiah, and Mordechai ..Mishnah Avot 1

Antiquities of the Jews 13:297
297 but of these matters we shall speak hereafter. What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers.