Pesher – How Does the Scripture Apply to Us

Pesher is one of those words heard more often in academic settings than in a local congregation.

Pesher can be one of those words we hear and we start to blur over. This is unfortunate, as pesher פֵּשֶׁר, a Hebrew word, simply means interpretation. It becomes not what a verse meant to those living when it was spoken/written, but what does it mean to you and I today, in our settings.

This interpretive technique can be seen in 1QpHab a scroll found in 1Q (the first cave at Qumran) a p(pesher) which interprets Hab(Habakkuk). That Jewish Essene community east of Jerusalem to the northwest of the Dead Sea saw themselves surrounded by the wicked and led by the teacher of righteousness. This community was active at the time Jesus the Christ walked the earth in flesh.

Jesus employs pesher in Matthew 13:14 when he quotes himself speaking to the prophet Isaiah ““Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;”

Luke, in Acts shows Paul quoting the same verse in preaching to the Romans, “25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;”

Much, if not all of the New Testament has an application for us today, even though most was written to Christ followers 2000 years separated from us in time and space.

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