Questions From Readers
● What did Jesus mean by the words, “You are mistaken, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection neither do they marry nor are they given in marriage”? (Matt. 22:29, 30) What is contained in the Hebrew Scriptures that the Sadducees should have known about the resurrection and not marrying in it?—A. E., United States.
The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, as is clear, not only from the Gospel accounts, but also from the record at Acts 23:6-10, which tells of the strife between the Pharisees and Sadducees that Paul caused by stating that he believed in the resurrection of the dead. The tricky question the Sadducees asked, about a woman having had seven brothers in succession as husbands and whose wife she would be in the resurrection, was meant to prove Jesus mistaken, but he turned the tables on them and proved them mistaken. In doing so Jesus could have quoted from many scriptures showing that the dead would arise, such as the words of Job (14:13-15), Hosea (13:14), Daniel (12:13) and others. But because the Sadducees held that only the Pentateuch was inspired, Jesus used the words of Jehovah to Moses at the burning bush to prove his point.—Matt. 22:31, 32.
This was really a master stroke on the part of Jesus, for the Sadducees prided themselves on knowing the Pentateuch and yet they had not seen in it the clear implication of the resurrection that Jesus pointed out to them. They had not gained the import of what God said to Moses at the burning bush to indicate that he, Jehovah God, is the Deity, not of the dead, but of the living. For the then dead Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to live again to worship their common God they would have to experience a resurrection from the dead. Jehovah God was equal to this miracle of the resurrection of the dead.—Ex. 3:6.
The fact that God had the resurrection power had been illustrated even by Jesus himself as the Son of God prior to the time that the Sadducees tried to stump Jesus with their tricky question. For these patent reasons Jesus could straightforwardly tell these Sadducees that they were not so smart after all, that they were wrong in discounting the resurrection of the dead and that their being mistaken on this score was because they did not know either the Scriptures by Moses, and the rest of the prophets, or the miracle-working power of God.
Jesus easily cut through their resurrection problem by informing the Sadducees that those who will be resurrected to life on earth neither marry nor are given in marriage, and hence there will exist no question as to whose wife the woman will be who in this old world had seven brothers successively as her husband. Jesus thus showed that, though the Sadducees were familiar with the recorded Scriptures, particularly the law of Moses, they had no real knowledge of their meaning and prophetic force. Had the Sadducees known the Scriptures they would have known that the Scriptures taught the resurrection. Had they known the power of God they would have known that God would be equal to any problem involved in the resurrection.
● We are an engaged couple that expect to get married soon and we would like to know if it would be proper for Witnesses to have one of the popular wedding marches played and to throw rice after the bridal party.—J. B., United States.
If one desires to have music at a wedding, it would seem to be more fitting to have Kingdom songs at a theocratic wedding than one of the popular wedding marches, which have pagan or mythological backgrounds. However, Kingdom music should not be used for dancing.
As for throwing rice, The Encyclopædia Britannica, 1959 edition, Volume 4, page 122, states: “The throwing of rice, a very ancient custom but later than the wheat, is symbolical of the wish that the bridal may be fruitful.” Since this is of pagan origin and, in effect, an invoking of magic, a performing of a rite in the hope of beneficial results, it should be avoided by Christians. As regards other wedding arrangements, moderation is indicated; and it would always seem best to err on the conservative side, exercising more restraint than needed rather than less than what is necessary.—See The Watchtower, June 15, 1952.
● What is the authority for the use of the expression “magic-practicing priests” in the New World Translation of the books of Genesis, Exodus and Daniel? I cannot find another translation that uses this expression.—L. B., United States.
The Hebrew word translated “magic-practicing priest” in Genesis, Exodus and Daniel, as, for instance, in Genesis 41:8, is hhartumimʹ. This word is defined by the Lexicon in Old Testament Books by Koehler and Baumgartner, Volume I, page 333, column 1, as “epithet of magic practicing priests,” and it shows the ancient derivation of the word. It also suggests rendering the word in translations as “soothsayer priests.” This lexicon was published in completion in 1951.
This rendering of the New World Translation is therefore both literal and explicit, in keeping with its being a literal translation.