The law remains (Mt 5:18-5:18)

“Truly,

I tell you!

‘Until heaven

And earth

Pass away,

Not an iota or yod,

Nor one stroke of a letter,

Will pass away

From the law,

Until all is accomplished.’”

 

ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.

 

This saying is similar to Mark, chapter 13:31, and Luke, chapter 16:17, with a few exceptions. Matthew has this as a great Jesus pronouncement for his disciples, since he said right at the beginning, “Truly, I tell you (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν)! The next phrase is exactly the same in Luke and Mark. Heaven and earth would not pass away (ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ,) until the law was fully accomplished (ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται). Matthew is even more specific with a detailed remark about the fact that not even an iota of the Law or not one stroke of a letter would go away (ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου), before the Law was fully accomplished. Iota was the Greek word for the Hebrew “yod,” the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Nothing in the Law or the Torah could be changed, plain and simple. Mark indicated that it was the words of Jesus, and not the Law, that would not change. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 3:31, would further expand on this idea of upholding the law.

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Historical Introduction (Bar 6:1-6:1)

“A copy of a letter

That Jeremiah sent

To those

Who were to be taken

To Babylon

As exiles

By the king of the Babylonians.

This was

To give them

The message

That God

Had commanded him.”

This claims to be a letter written by Jeremiah as the people were about to be taken into exile. Was this the first exile in 597 BCE or the second exile in 587 BCE? This letter is probably around the second exile. How does this relate to the letter of Jeremiah in chapter 29 of his work? It has nothing to do with the letter in Jeremiah. It probably has nothing to do with Jeremiah at all, since it has strong traces of the later Hellenistic period. Finally, why is it here as chapter 6 at the end of the Book of Baruch? It is here because that was the place of this work in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate translation. This is a so-called copy of a letter that Jeremiah sent to those who were to be taken to Babylon as exiles. Jeremiah had been friendly to the Babylonians, so that does not seem to be a stretch.   This was a message that God commanded Jeremiah to give to exiles as they departed from Jerusalem. The verse numbering is one verse different in the Bible of Jerusalem because this was considered an introduction and not verse 1. This continues throughout this chapter.

The ambassadors of Merodach (Isa 39:1-39:1)

“At that time,

King Merodach-baladan,

Son of Baladan of Babylon,

Sent envoys with letters

Also with a present

To King Hezekiah.

He had heard

That King Hezekiah had been sick.

He had heard

That King Hezekiah had recovered.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 20. King Merodach-baladan was the king of Babylon. He was trying to prevent the king of Assyria from taking over his land, so that he wanted to make an alliance with the king of Judah. Thus he sent ambassadors to the King Hezekiah to see how he felt after his illness and recovery. He also sent a letter and a present for King Hezekiah. This seems like a nice gesture.

Hymn of praise for the works of Yahweh (Ps 111:1-111:4)

“Praise Yahweh!

Aleph 

I will give thanks to Yahweh,

With my whole heart,

Bet      

In the company of the upright,

In the congregation.

Gimel

Great are the works of Yahweh,

Dalet  

Studied by all who delight in them.

He      

Full of honor and majesty is his work.

Vav     

His righteousness endures forever.

Zain   

He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 111 is a hymn of praise to Yahweh because he has kept his covenant with Israel. Although there is no title, this fairly short acrostic or Hebrew alphabet psalm has a letter for every line. Like the next 2 psalms, it starts with the refrain “Praise Yahweh” or the Alleluia cry, which is the Hebrew word “Hallelujah.” The psalmist will give thanks to Yahweh with his whole heart at the congregational meeting. He talked about the great works of Yahweh that delights those who study them. Yahweh is full of honor and majesty in his work. Of course, his righteousness lasts forever because he has become well known by his wonderful actions.

King Demetrius I seeks peace with Jonathan (1 Macc 10:1-10:6)

“In the one hundred and sixtieth year Alexander Epiphanes, son of Antiochus, landed and occupied Ptolemais. They welcomed him. He then began to reign there. When King Demetrius heard of it, he assembled a very large army. He marched out to meet him in battle. King Demetrius sent Jonathan a letter in peaceable words to honor him. He said to himself.

‘Let us act first to make peace with him

Before he makes peace with Alexander against us.

He will remember all the wrongs which we did to him

And to his brothers and his nation.’

So Demetrius gave Jonathan authority to recruit troops, to equip them with arms, and to become his ally. He commanded that the hostages in the citadel should be released to him.”

About 7 years later, in 152 BCE, we see the struggle of the son of King Antiochus IV, Alexander versus Demetrius I, the son of King Seleucus IV.   Alexander was also the brother of King Antiochus V, who died in battle at a young age. Alexander occupied Ptolemais, which is the modern day 5,000 year old city of Acre, near Haifa, in northern Israel on the Mediterranean Sea. When King Demetrius I heard about this, he wanted to get Jonathan on his side against Alexander. He knew that he had done wrong to his family and nation. He gave Jonathan the authority to recruit troops and arm them as his ally. Somehow there was still some captives in the Jerusalem citadel that he released.