Ketuvin Netzarim: James (Jacob or Ya’akov) 4:1-17
Speech and Lashon Ha-Ra
Prohibition of Harming a Person through Speech
This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” It includes all forms of lashon ha-ra (sins relating to speech).
Resist Pride and Evil
1 Where do quarrels and conflicts among you come from? Don’t they come from this, namely your passions that battle within your body parts?
2 You crave and have not. You murder and you envy, yet you cannot get it. You fight and you wage war. You do not have because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives so you may spend it on your passions.
4 You adulteresses!Don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think that in vain the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which He made to dwell in us”?
6 But He gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
7 Therefore submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded!
9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of Adonai, and He shall lift you up.
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the Torah and judges the Torah. But if you judge the Torah, you are not a doer of the Torah, but a judge.
12 There is only one lawgiver and judge—the One who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you who judges your neighbor?
If the Lord Wills, We Will
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
17 Therefore whoever knows the right thing to do and does not do it—for him it is sin.
Jer 4:14 O Jerusalem Yeru Shalem ,
wash launder thine heart from wickedness evil ,
that thou mayest be saved.
How long Until when
shall thy vain thoughts fabrications of mischief
lodge stay overnight within thee?
In all that follows we have still the judgment of unbridled nature (Yetzer Hara), of will in its different forms: contentions that arise from the lusts of the natural heart; request made to God proceeding from the same source; the desires of the flesh and of the mind developing themselves and finding their sphere in the friendship of the world, which is thus enmity against God. The nature of man covets enviously, is full of envy with regard to others. But God gives more grace: there is counteracting power, if one is content to be little and humble, to be as nothing in the world. The grace and favour of God are with such an one; for He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Upon this, the apostle unfolds the action of a soul directed by the Spirit of God, in the midst of the unbelieving and selfish multitude with whom it was associated. (Jam_4:6-10) For he still supposes the believers whom he addressed to be in connection with the law. If they spoke evil (Yetzer Hara) of their brother, to whom the law gave a place before God, they spoke evil of the law, according to which his value was so great. Judgment belonged to God, who had given the law, and who would vindicate His own authority as well as grant deliverance and salvation.
Verses 13-16 (Jam_4:13-16). The same self-will and forgetfulness of God are blamed, the false confidence that flows from reckoning upon being able to do as one pleases — the absence of dependence on God. Verse 17 (Jam_4:17) is a general conclusion, founded on the principle already suggested (Jam_3:1) , and on that which is said with regard to faith. The knowledge of good, without its practice, causes even the absence of the work which one could have performed to be a positive sin. The action of the new man is absent, that of the old man is present; for the good is before our eyes — we know what we ought to do, and do not choose to do it; there is no inclination to do it — we will not do it.