The cleansed leper told everyone (Mk 1:45-1:45)

“But the cleansed leper

Went out.

He began

To proclaim it freely.

He spread the news,

So that Jesus

Could no longer

Go into a town openly.

But he stayed

Out in the deserted country.

However,

The people came

To him

From every quarter.”

 

ὁ δὲ ἐξελθὼν ἤρξατο κηρύσσειν πολλὰ καὶ διαφημίζειν τὸν λόγον, ὥστε μηκέτι αὐτὸν δύνασθαι φανερῶς εἰς πόλιν εἰσελθεῖν, ἀλλ’ ἔξω ἐπ’ ἐρήμοις τόποις ἦν· καὶ ἤρχοντο πρὸς αὐτὸν πάντοθεν.

 

There is nothing quite like this in Luke or Matthew, since Mark alone said that after this cleansed leper went out (ὁ δὲ ἐξελθὼν), he began to proclaim what had happened to him freely (ἤρξατο κηρύσσειν πολλὰ).  He spread the news about his cleansing to everyone (καὶ διαφημίζειν τὸν λόγον), so that Jesus was no longer able to openly enter into a city or town (ὥστε μηκέτι αὐτὸν δύνασθαι φανερῶς εἰς πόλιν εἰσελθεῖν).  He had to stay out in the solitary deserted countryside (ἀλλ’ ἔξω ἐπ’ ἐρήμοις τόποις ἦν).  Nevertheless, the people came to him from all around the area or from various quarters (καὶ ἤρχοντο πρὸς αὐτὸν πάντοθεν).  The cleansed leper did not keep quiet, so that this led to more consternation for Jesus.

The light of the world (Mt 5:14-5:14)

“You are

The light

Of the world!

A city built

On a hill

Cannot be hid.”

 

Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου. οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ἐπάνω ὄρους κειμένη·

 

This saying of Jesus can be found in John, chapter 8:12. The main difference is that here Matthew has Jesus say that his disciples are the light of the world (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου), “you are” (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε). However, in John, Jesus said that he was the light of the world (Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου), “I am” (Ἐγώ εἰμι). That is quite a difference. Are the disciples the light of the world or is only Jesus who is the light of the world? Or are they both lights to the world. I assume that they both can be. The disciples of Jesus were both the salt of the earth and the light of the world, so that they were very important people. Matthew then added a unique phrase about a city set on or built on a hill that could not hide itself (οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ἐπάνω ὄρους κειμένη), as if to say that the disciples were like a city on a hill that could not be hidden. These are powerful words about the disciples of Jesus.

The diminishing numbers (Am 5:3-5:3)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘The city that marched out

A thousand

Shall have a hundred left.

That which marched out

A hundred

Shall have ten left.’”

Amos has an oracle of Yahweh that talked about the diminishing numbers of Israelites. If a city had a 1,000 go out to fight, they might have 100 left. If they had 100 go out to fight, they will be lucky to have 10 left.

Yahweh is the cause (Am 3:6-3:8)

“Is a trumpet

Blown in a city,

With the people not afraid?

Does disaster befall a city,

Unless Yahweh has done it?

Surely Yahweh God

Does nothing,

Without revealing

His secret

To his servants,

The prophets.

The lion has roared,

Who will not fear?

Yahweh God

Has spoken.

Who can but prophesy?”

It turns out that the cause of everything is Yahweh. If a trumpet blows in a city, the people are afraid. No disaster comes to a city, unless Yahweh had decided to make it happen. However, Yahweh God revealed his secrets to his servants, the prophets. When the lion roared, people were afraid. Thus, when Yahweh speaks, the prophets must prophesize.

Your sister Sodom (Ezek 16:48-16:50)

“As I live,

Says Yahweh God.

‘Your sister Sodom,

With her daughters,

Has not done

As you

With your daughters

Have done.

This was the guilt

Of your sister Sodom.

She,

With her daughters,

Had pride,

Excess of food,

A prosperous ease.

But they did not

Aid the poor.

They did not

Aid the needy.

They were haughty.

They did abominable things

Before me.

Therefore I removed them,

When I saw it.”

The story of Sodom was based on Genesis, chapter 19.   Sodom was a city in the plains, south of Jerusalem, near the Dead Sea. Jerusalem was like the city of Sodom because Jerusalem had done the same things as they had done. Sodom with her daughters was guilty of pride, too much food, and too easy of a life style. Sodom did not aid the poor and the needy. There was no explanation here of all the abominable things mentioned in Genesis. However, Yahweh had removed them. He had destroyed them, when he found out about their behavior.

Supreme power of Yahweh (Isa 45:11-45:13)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The Holy One of Israel!

It’s Maker!

‘Will you question me

About my children?

Will you command me

Concerning the work of my hands?

I made the earth.

I created humankind upon it.

It was my hands

That stretched out the heavens.

I commanded their entire host.

I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness.

I will make all his paths straight.

He shall build my city.

He shall set my exiles free,

Not for a price or a reward.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

There is no doubt that this is an oracle of Yahweh, the Most Holy One of Israel, and its maker, here in Second Isaiah. Yahweh was defending his choice of Cyrus. Why would any of his children question him? Why should they say anything about how he is doing things? Yahweh has made the heavens and the earth with all the humans that live here. Thus he has appointed Cyrus in his righteousness. Yahweh is going to level the ground in front of him. In turn, Cyrus was going to build a city and set his exiles free, but he would not receive any money or reward for this action.

The destruction of Damascus (Isa 17:1-17:3)

“‘See!

Damascus will cease to be a city.

It will become a heap of ruins.

Her towns will be deserted forever.

They will be places for flocks.

These animals will lie down.

No one will make them afraid.

The fortress will disappear

From Ephraim.

The kingdom will disappear

From Damascus.

The remnant of Syria

Will be

Like the glory

Of the children of Israel.’

Thus says Yahweh of hosts.”

This is another oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah. Damascus will cease to be a city, plain and simple, as it will become a heap of ruins deserted forever. This did not happen. Damascus would become a place for grazing animals to lay down where no one would bother them. Then we have an implied reprimand for the northern Israelites, as Yahweh says that Ephraim, with the capital city of Samaria, would lose its fortress. The northern Israelites were aligned with Syria or Aram against Judah. The Aramean kingdom would disappear from Damascus, which did happen. The remnant of Syria would give glory to the children of Israel. Thus we have this divine diatribe against Damascus in Syria.

Know your heart (Eccl 7:19-7:22)

“Wisdom gives strength

To the wise man

More than ten rulers

That are in a city.

Surely there is no one on earth

So righteous as to do good

Without ever sinning.

Do not give heed

To everything that people say.

Otherwise,

You might hear

Your servant cursing you.

Your heart knows

That many times

You have yourself cursed others.”

Wisdom will give you strength more than 10 rulers in a city. However, there is no one on earth so righteous that they have never sinned. Do not listen to what people say or else you might hear your own servants cursing you. Your heart really knows that you have cursed others. Qoheleth seems very realistic here, or maybe cynical. Nobody is pure. Everyone has cursed someone else at some time. Accept that fact.

The wise person (Prov 21:22-21:23)

“A wise person went up against a city of warriors.

He brought down the stronghold in which they trusted.

Whoever watches over their mouth and their tongue

Keeps out of trouble.”

A wise person can go against a city of warriors because he can figure out how to bring down the trusted stronghold of these warriors. If you watch your mouth and tongue, you will keep out of trouble.

Casting Lots (Prov 18:18-18:21)

“Casting the lot puts an end to disputes.

Casting lots decides between powerful contenders.

An ally offended is stronger than a city.

Such quarreling is like the bars of a castle.

From the fruit of the mouth,

One’s stomach is satisfied.

The yield of the lips

Brings satisfaction.

Death and life

Are in the power of the tongue.

Those who love it

Will eat its fruits.”

Casting lots was a way of finding out God’s will. This is how you put an end to disputes and arguments between powerful people. If you offend your ally he will become stronger than a city. This kind of quarreling is like the bars on a castle that cannot be torn down or bring about reconciliation. You satisfy your stomach through your mouth. So too the words of your lips will bring satisfaction. Life and death are in power of the tongue. When you love something, you will eat its fruits or enjoy the results.