Who said “hate your enemy”?

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5,43-28

Where would they have heard it said “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy”?
Not the Old Testament.
Not the Epic of Gilgamesh… or so I am told.
None of the Pyramid texts of Ancient Egypt… at least none of the ones that are searchable online. Ever since the library burned in Alexandria it has been so difficult to find Ptolemaic microfiche.

The phrase is found, however, in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Rule of the Community at Qumran includes the instruction to “love all the sons of light, each according to his lot in God’s design, and hate all the sons of darkness, each according to his guilt in God’s vengeance” (1QS I). The Jewish believers at Qumran (sometimes called the Essenes) had particular hatred for those Jews were not faithful to the covenants. The followers of Jesus were being shaped into a very different kind of community.

Blessed are the merciful. (Matthew 5,7)
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5,44)
First remove the plank from your own eye. (Matthew 7,5)
Forgive seventy times seven. (Matthew 18,22)
Love one another as I have loved you. (John 13,34)

In times of cultural irreligious perversion and internal sectarian strife, it is easy for those with religious fervor who are eager for reform to go from frustration (fine) and bitterness (understandable) to malice plain and simple (bad idea). Leave it to the angels to embody the wrath of God. Be angry but do not sin (Ephesians 4,26).


A decent article about the Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity can be found here.
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