An eye for an eye (Mt 5:38-5:38)

“You have heard

That it was said.

‘An eye for an eye.

A tooth for a tooth.’”

 

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος.

 

Once again, Matthew has Jesus cite Exodus, chapter 21:23.  They all had heard this old saying about revenge talked about (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη).  An eye for an eye (Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ) and a tooth for a tooth (καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος.), plain and simple.  This Exodus citation started out by talking about what to do if you hit a pregnant woman that caused her to have a miscarriage.  Then you would have to pay the fine that the woman’s husband demanded, as approved by a judge.  If any harm followed, you ended up with the famous revenge concept of a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a stripe for a stripe.  This revenge concept was clear, even though it was a limited revenge.

The magic touch (Dan 10:10-10:10)

“But then,

A hand

Touched me.

It roused me

To my hands,

To my knees.”

While Daniel was in a trance, face down on the ground, a hand reached out to him. It roused him from his trance. Daniel was then able to get to his hands and knees.

The writing on the wall (Dan 5:24-5:25)

“So,

From his presence,

The hand was sent.

This writing

Was inscribed.

This is the writing

That was inscribed.

‘Mene,

Mene,

Tekel,

Parsin.’”

Daniel said that the divine presence of God sent a hand to write on the wall. The inscription on the wall included 3 Aramaic words, one repeated twice, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. What does it mean? It could mean various weights or measures such as the mina, the shekel, and a half mina. However, it could mean the 3 Babylonian kings, or the 3 countries of Babylon, Persia, and Medes.

The wall around the temple (Ezek 40:5-40:5)

“Now there was a wall

All around the outside

Of the temple area.

The length

Of the measuring reed

In the man’s hand

Was six long cubits.

Each cubit

Was a cubit

Plus a handbreadth

In length.

He measured

The thickness

Of the wall,

One reed.

He measured

The height

Of the wall.

One reed.”

Almost like Moses in Exodus, Ezekiel’s vision of the future described what the new Temple should look like. Surprisingly, it was much like the old Temple. There was no indication that the Second Temple was built like this vision of Ezekiel indicated. First, this bronze man was going to measure the wall around the Temple. He took his measuring reed that was 6 long cubits. The long cubit was 4 inches longer or the width of a hand longer than the regular cubit that was about a foot and a half long. When this bronze man measured the thickness and the height of the wall, they were symmetrical, exactly the same, one reed or 6 long cubits, somewhere between about 10 feet high and 10 feet wide, a massive construction.

 

The written scroll (Ezek 2:8-2:10)

“‘But you!

Son of man!

Hear

What I say to you!

Do not be rebellious

Like that rebellious house!

Open your mouth!

Eat what I give you!’

When I looked,

A hand

Was stretched out

To me.

A written scroll

Was in it.

He spread it

Before me.

It had writing

On the front

As well as on the back.

Written on it

Were words

Of lamentation,

Of mourning,

Of woe.”

The voice of Yahweh continued to speak to Ezekiel as the son of man. He was to listen to what Yahweh had to say to him. He was not to be rebellious like the rebellious house of Israel. He was to open his mouth and eat what Yahweh was going to give to him. Then when Ezekiel looked up, he saw a hand stretched out to him with a written scroll in it. This hand spread the scroll out before him. Ezekiel saw that there was writing on the front and the back of this scroll. Ezekiel even read it. He saw that it had words of lamentation, of mourning, and of woe.

Yahweh accepts the proselyte foreigners (Isa 56:6-56:8)

“Foreigners join themselves to Yahweh.

They minister to him.

They love the name of Yahweh.

They want to be his servants.

They keep the Sabbath.

They do not profane it.

They hold fast to my covenant.

‘I will bring these to my holy mountain.

I will make them joyful

In my house of prayer.

Their burnt offerings,

With their sacrifices

Will be accepted on my altar.

My house shall be called

A house of prayer

For all people.’

Thus says Yahweh God!

He gathers the outcasts of Israel.

‘I will gather others to them,

Besides those already gathered.’”

Third Isaiah keeps the universal theme alive. He has Yahweh extend a hand to the proselytes, those people who were not originally Israelites but joined their religious community. In pre-exilic times, they would have been excluded from the community. These foreigners are the ones who have joined themselves to Yahweh, the Lord. They have ministered to him and want to be his servants. They love the name of Yahweh and hold fast to his covenant. Yahweh will bring them to his holy mountain where they will be joyful in his house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on his altars. No longer is the Temple a place for clean Israelites, but all the people are invited to Yahweh’s house of prayer. Yahweh, the Lord God, has gathered all the outcasts of Israel, but he has also gathered other believers who were not Israelites.