Jesus compares sheep to human beings (Mt 12:11-12:12)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Suppose one of you

Has only one sheep.

If it falls into a pit

On the Sabbath,

Will you not lay hold of it?

Will you not lift it out?

How much more valuable

Is a human being

Than a sheep!

Thus,

It is lawful to do good

On the Sabbath.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Τίς ἔσται ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος ὃς ἕξει πρόβατον ἕν, καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον, C

πόσῳ οὖν διαφέρει ἄνθρωπος προβάτου. ὥστε ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν.

 

Matthew has Jesus respond to the Pharisees with his own example about sheep and humans.  This is somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 3:3-4, and Luke, chapter 6:8-9, but Matthew was the only one who compared sheep to humans.  Jesus posed a question to the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  Suppose a man had only one sheep (Τίς ἔσται ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος ὃς ἕξει πρόβατον ἕν).  Suppose this one sheep fell into a pit or a ditch on the Sabbath (καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον).  Would this man not grab it and lift it out of the pit (καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον)?  Just think, how much more valuable are human being when compared to a sheep (πόσῳ οὖν διαφέρει ἄνθρωπος προβάτου)!  Thus, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath (ὥστε ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν).  If you help sheep on the Sabbath, surely you can help humans on the Sabbath.

The second young lion was captured (Ezek 19:7-19:9)

“The second young lion

Ravaged

Their strongholds.

He laid waste

To their towns.

The land

Was appalled.

All who were in it

Were appalled

At the sound

Of his roaring.

The nations

Set upon him

From the provinces

All around.

They spread

Their net

Over him.

He was caught

In their pit.

With hooks,

They put him

In a cage.

They brought him

To the king of Babylon.

They brought him

Into custody.

Thus his voice

Would be heard

No more

On the mountains

Of Israel.”

This second young lion ravaged the strongholds and towns around there. The land and everybody in it were appalled at the sound of his roaring. Thus various countries from around the area set upon him. They spread out their nets over him. They caught him in a pit. They hooked him and put him into a cage. They brought him to the king of Babylon. He was now in custody so that his voice would no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel. This sounds a lot like a reference to King Zedekiah (598-587).

The allegory of the young lion (Ezek 19:1-19:4)

“As for you!

Raise up

A lamentation

For the princes of Israel!

Say!

‘What a lioness

Was your mother

Among lions!

She lay down

Among young lions,

Rearing her cubs.

She raised up

One of her cubs.

He became

A young lion.

He learned

To catch prey.

He devoured humans.

The nations sounded

An alarm

Against him.

He was caught

In their pit.

They brought him

With hooks

To the land of Egypt.”

Now Ezekiel has an allegorical poetic lamentation for the officials and princes of Israel. There was a lioness mother who took care of her cubs. Apparently this is an allusion to Judah, the lioness. One of them became a young lion who learned how to catch prey. In fact, he devoured some humans. Other countries got upset. They then caught him in a pit. They hooked him and brought him to Egypt. Who is this young lion that was brought to Egypt? This may be a reference to King Jehoahaz (609 BCE) who was captured, after the death of his father, King Josiah (640-609 BCE).

The lost hunted one (Lam 3:52-3:54)

Cade

“My enemies,

Without cause,

Have hunted me

Like a bird.

They flung me

Alive

Into a pit.

They hurled stones

On me.

Water closed

Over my head.

I said.

‘I am lost.’”

This personal story continues. The author’s enemies have hunted him down like a bird, even though there was no reason to do so. They have flung him alive into a pit and threw stones over him. Then water closed over his head in this pit. He finally said that he was lost with no way out. This is reminiscent of Jeremiah in the cistern well under King Zedekiah in Jeremiah, chapter 38. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Cade in this acrostic poem.

The vicious request of Jeremiah (Jer 18:21-18:23)

“Therefore give their children

Over to famine!

Hurl them out

To the power of the sword!

Let their wives become childless!

Let their wives become widowed!

May their men meet death

By pestilence!

May their youths be slain

By the sword in battle!

May a cry be heard

From their houses,

When you bring the marauder

Suddenly upon them.

They have dug a pit

To catch me.

They laid snares

For my feet.

Yet you!

Yahweh!

Know all their plotting

To kill me.

Do not forgive their iniquity!

Do not blot out their sin

From your sight!

Let them be tripped up before you!

Deal with them

While you are angry!”

Jeremiah does not hold back his contempt for his adversaries. He is vicious in this lament to Yahweh. First, he wanted their children to die whether by famine or by the sword. He wanted their wives to be childless and widows. He hoped that they might die from a pestilence. He wanted their young men killed in battle. He wanted a marauder to suddenly attack them. They had plotted to catch him and kill him in a pit, as they laid snares for his feet. He told Yahweh not to forgive their iniquity, not to blot out their sins. They should be tripped up. He wanted Yahweh to deal with them while he was angry, so that they would receive a worse sentence. There was no sense of Jeremiah’s mercy or compassion here. He wanted his enemies completely destroyed.

The lament of Jeremiah (Jer 18:19-18:20)

“Give heed to me!

Yahweh!

Listen to what my adversaries say!

Is evil a recompense for good?

Yet they have dug a pit for my life.

Remember how I stood before you

To speak good for them.

I asked you

To turn away your wrath

From them.”

Jeremiah starts out asking Yahweh, God, to hear him. He also wanted him to hear what his enemies had said. Why was evil given as a compensation for good things? They have dug a pit for his life, so that he might be killed. Jeremiah wanted Yahweh to remember how he had stood before Yahweh and spoke good things about them. He had wanted Yahweh to turn his wrath away from them. Now these same people were trying to kill him.

The punishment of judgment day (Isa 24:21-24:23)

“On that day,

Yahweh will punish

The host of heaven

In heaven.

Yahweh will punish

The kings of the earth

On earth.

They will be gathered together

As prisoners

In a pit.

They will be shut up

In a prison.

After many days,

They will be punished.

Then the moon will be abashed.

The sun will be ashamed.

Yahweh of hosts

Will reign on Mount Zion

In Jerusalem.

Before his elders,

He will manifest his glory.”

The “host of heaven in heaven” seems to be a reference to a bunch of rebellious false idol gods. Obviously Yahweh will also punish the earthly kings, since they will be imprisoned together in a pit. They will stay there many days before they receive any punishment, but this text does not indicate that they will die or how they would be punished. Then the moon and the sun will also be embarrassed and ashamed. Yahweh will then finally rule in Mount Zion in Jerusalem before the elders there. Thus he can manifest his glory.