Every Jot and Tittle is Important

Not even the smallest jot or tittle will “pass from the Torah until all is accomplished.” At what point does that happen? When will everything be accomplished?

He said, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Torah until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). The smallest Hebrew letter, the letter yod (י) is only the size of an apostrophe. (Image © FFOZ/KUCO/Bigstock)

Yeshua taught that He did not come to abolish the Torah. He said, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Torah until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).

The smallest Hebrew letter, the letter yod (י) is only the size of an apostrophe. The “tittle” probably refers to the small strokes of a single letter, which distinguish similar-looking letters from one another. Yeshua’s words allude to the careful scribal tradition of Judaism. The scribal tradition considers a Torah scroll with a single defective letter invalid.

According to one old Jewish story, King Solomon tried to change the Torah by editing the text of Deuteronomy. He erased a single letter yod from the scroll in order to change the meaning of one word. By changing that single jot, Solomon cancelled the prohibition on multiplying wives.

At that time, the little yod (י) from the word yarbeh (ירבה) ascended on high and prostrated itself before the Holy One, blessed be He, and said: “Master of the Universe! Did you not say that no letter shall ever be abolished from the Torah? Behold, now Solomon has arisen and abolished me. Who knows? Today he has abolished one letter, tomorrow he will abolish another until the whole Torah will be abolished!” The Holy One, blessed be He, replied: “Solomon and a thousand like him will pass away, but the smallest tittle will not be erased from you.” (Exodus Rabbah 6:1)

Yeshua told His disciples that not even the smallest jot or tittle will “pass from the Torah until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). At what point does that happen? When will all be accomplished?

People sometimes try to reverse Yeshua’s teaching about the ongoing authority of the Torah. Some say that the words “until all is accomplished” indicate a coming end to the Torah. They teach that the Torah endured “until” Yeshua accomplished all things by His death on the cross. Others explain it to refer to the Torah’s ongoing validity “until” Yeshua accomplished all things by His perfect obedience to it. Still others suggest the Torah remained “until” the destruction of the Temple. Each interpretation creates smoke and mirrors to alter the clear meaning.

The phrase “until all is accomplished” stands parallel to the phrase “until heaven and earth pass away.” In other words, the validity, authority, and unchanging revelation of the Torah will continue until this present world is swallowed up into the new heavens and new earth of the World to Come—that day when everything will have been accomplished.

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Adapted From:

Chronicles of the Messiah

Chronicles of the Messiah presents an extensive harmonized study of the Gospels from a Messianic Jewish perspective, published in a sturdy, hard cover edition of six books.

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