When the beatitudes, particularly Matthew 5, are read within the context of Scripture, the “blessing” statements are shocking, seemingly coming “out from left field.” This paper proposes that a proper understanding of the beatitudes in Matthew requires an understanding of the First Testament beatitudes. Thus, the time for seeking etymological roots for understanding μακάριος, equating the Hebrew terms [ברך] and [אַשְׁרֵי], associating the beatitudes with blessings and curses should come to an end. Moreover, scholars should take into consideration Hebrew structure of the First Testament beatitudes when identifying units within Matthew.
First, the paper briefly provides examples of Matthean scholarship glossing over the First Testament as the primary source for understanding beatitudes and identifying the lacuna in research. Second, the paper seeks to present research collected from First Testament scholarship that fills the “gap” in research. Third, by utilizing the research of part two the essay presents that a fresh biblical theological approach using Hebrew discourse reveals potential new insights.
The third section proposes fresh insight from a thorough analysis of all forty-five First Testament beatitudes. By observing the First Testament uses, the paper proposes both exegetical and application benefits. For example, Matthew 5:11–12 is best placed within the greater unit of Matthew 5:3–10. Further, the beatitudes in Matthew may break First Testament patterns to teach Christians.