Bible, Main, Teaching, z97
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What does it mean the meek will inherit the earth?


Credit: Serita Vossen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Serita Vossen/Flickr/Creative Commons

What did Jesus mean when He said the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)?

Depending on what dictionary you use, the English word meek leaves different impressions — gentle, submissive, compliant, spineless, humble and maybe even a bit cowardly.

But is this what Jesus meant?

I am not sure meek is the right English translation for the Greek word “praus” used in this verse which is how the King James translated it.

HELPS word studies describes “praus” this way:

4236 praótēs– properly, temperate, displaying the right blend of force and reserve (gentleness). 4236 /praótēs (“strength in gentleness”) avoids unnecessary harshness, yet without compromising or being too slow to use necessary force.

The word depicts a person with power, but one who knows when to use it and when not to. It also describes a person who “avoids unnecessary harshness.”

But “praus” does not portray a person who is weak or cowardly.

Though the word can be translated “gentle” it is not in the sense that we imagine. The word was used to describe war horses trained for battle. They were gentle and restrained around their  handlers, but in battle they charged fearlessly into enemy lines.

Job goes into great detail describing war horses pawing at the ground when they heard the clanging of the enemy’s swords and spears. Under the control of their masters, they were fully prepared to throw themselves into battle if required:

“Do you give the horse his might?….
21 “He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength;
He goes out to meet the weapons.
22 “He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
And he does not turn back from the sword.
23 “The quiver rattles against him,
The flashing spear and javelin.
24 “With shaking and rage he races over the ground,
And he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet.
25 “As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!’
And he scents the battle from afar,
And the thunder of the captains and the war cry. (Job 39: 19, 21-25 NASV)

In his study of the original meaning of “praus, ” Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson says it portrays a powerful man who is armed with a sword and trained how to use it, but one who also knows when to sheath it.

Maybe it is just a coincidence, but at one point Jesus told his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy a sword (Luke 22:36). Buying a sword also meant preparing yourself to use it. Then when Judas led the priests into the Garden to arrest Christ, one of disciples pulled his sword and cut off the ear of a slave accompanying the high priest.

The disciples were armed and prepared to defend themselves, but then Jesus told the disciple to sheath his sword and healed the slave (Matthew 26: 51-52).

The Bible describes Jesus as a meek man. Yet He charged through the temple overturning tables (Matthew 21:12-17) and He confronted the pharisees over their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13).

Moses was also described as the meekest man in the earth (Numbers 12:3). But he also killed a guard beating a Jewish slave. Many believe Moses probably saved the slave’s life as the guards were notorious for their brutality (Exodus 2:11-12). Then Moses confronted Pharaoh and warned him of judgement if he did not let God’s people go.

These men were not meek in the way we understand the word the word today. Meekness is not cowardliness. Meekness is not avoiding confrontation or a battle. Meekness is knowing when you should use your sword and when you should keep it sheathed.

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5 Comments

  1. Miguel Angel says

    Well put, sir. I agree 100%. It is the strong man who has self-control who shall inherit the earth. You need to be strong to live in faith. Don’t know of a stronger man than Jesus.

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    • For years, I have looked at this verse wrong. It was interesting to look into the word ‘meek’ a bit more. Thanks for your comment.
      God Bless Dean

      Like

  2. Cristobal Joel says

    Do you not read what God’s judgement is to those who disobey God’s commandments, God’s judgement to the wicked???
    They will be uprooted (brought to demise) from the earth.
    The wicked will be uprooted down to the roots (no seed will succeed him anymore)
    And those blessed by God, they will Inherit the earth. They will not be uprooted. His name and his seed(s) shall remain.
    It is written: “For as long as the new heaven and new earth exist, SO SHALL YOUR NAME AND YOUR SEED REMAIN…”
    God’s promise to his servants is that they would inherit the land. Never did God ever promised “heaven and immortality” to his servant. God never promised to Raise Abraham from dead and live immortally in heaven…neither did he promise Moses, David etc…heaven and immortality.
    What happened to jesus’ followers? Were they made to inherit the earth? NO! THEY WERE CUT OFF because they have lead many away from obedience to Torah.
    It seems also written: “see, I have set before you a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you follow the commandments I give you today, and A CURSE if you do not keep it…”
    Since the followers of Jesus failed to keep the commandments, they faced the curse.

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