Aramaic for ‘fool’, and a term of abuse probably forbidden by a Jewish rabbinic source known to Matthew. The word occurs nowhere else in the NT and the text (Matt. 5: 22) appears to be in a confused state. It is difficult to interpret. It hardly seems appropriate that the use of ‘Raca’ should incur the judgement of the Sanhedrin, whereas uttering much the same kind of abuse is to be punished with a ‘hell of fire’—a punishment hardly mentioned at all in Mark and Luke, and never in John. The general tenor of the passage is probably that while a court of law can take cognizance of external acts, internal dispositions, such as anger, will come under the ultimate judgement of God.
Subjects: Biblical Studies.