Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist (Mt 14:2-14:3)

“Herod said

To his servants.

‘This is John the Baptist.

He has been raised

From the dead.

This is why these powers

Are at work in him.’

Herod had seized John.

He had bound him.

He had put him in prison,

On account of Herodias,

His brother Philip’s wife.”

 

καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ.

Ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης κρατήσας τὸν Ἰωάνην ἔδησεν καὶ ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ·

 

This mention of Herod and John the Baptist can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 6:14 and 6:17, and Luke, chapter 9:7 and 3:19-20, and here.  As if this story was not complicated enough, Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee, had already seized John the Baptist.  John had been complaining that Herod Antipas had married the wife of his half-brother Herod Boethus or Philip, after he had divorced his first wife, who went back to her father and started a war with Herod Antipas.  His new wife was called Herodias.  Thus, Herod Antipas said to his children or servants (καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ) that he thought that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead (Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν).  How ironic since Jesus was to rise from the dead.  Herod thought the miraculous powers of John the Baptist were at work in Jesus (καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ).  Herod knew that he had seized, bound, and, put John in jail (Ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης κρατήσας τὸν Ἰωάνην ἔδησεν καὶ ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο).  In fact, he had him killed because of his new wife Herodias, who had been the wife of his brother Philip or Herod Boethus (διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ).

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The breaking of the peace (Mic 2:8-2:10)“But you rise Against my people As an enemy. You strip the robe From the peaceful, From those who pass by Trustingly, With no thought of war. You drive out The women Of my people From their pleasant houses. You take away From their young children My glory forever. Arise! Go! This is no place To rest. Because uncleanness Destroys With a grievous destruction.” Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace. The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy. They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war. They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes. They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children. Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

“But you rise

Against my people

As an enemy.

You strip the robe

From the peaceful,

From those who pass by

Trustingly,

With no thought of war.

You drive out

The women

Of my people

From their pleasant houses.

You take away

From their young children

My glory forever.

Arise!

Go!

This is no place

To rest.

Because uncleanness

Destroys

With a grievous destruction.”

Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace.  The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy.  They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war.  They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes.  They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children.  Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

The anointed one was cut off (Dan 9:26-9:27)

“After the sixty-two weeks,

An anointed one

Shall be cut off.

He shall have nothing.

The troops

Of the prince,

Who is to come,

Shall destroy

The city.

He shall destroy

The sanctuary.

Its end shall come

With a flood.

To the end,

There shall be war.

Desolations are decreed.

He shall make

A strong covenant

With many

For one week.

For half

Of the week,

He shall make

Sacrifices cease.

He shall make

Offerings cease.

In their places,

There shall be an abomination

That desolates,

Until the decreed end

Is poured out

On the desolator.”

Well, that was a simple explanation by Gabriel! After 62 weeks, the anointed one would be cut off. In fact, there is some agreement that this anointed one was the high priest Onias III, who was deposed in 175 BCE. The prince coming to destroy him was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary. It is unclear what the flood was about. Obviously, there was a war and the Maccabees uprising. The covenant for one week might mean 7 years, and ½ a week might mean 3 ½ years, the time when the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple. Instead, they had the terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols. Finally, this all came to an end.

Filling the large cistern pit with dead people (Jer 41:9-41:9)

“Now the cistern

Into which Ishmael

Had thrown

All the bodies

Of the men

Whom he had struck down

Was the large cistern

That King Asa

Had made for defense

Against King Baasha

Of Israel.

Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

Filled that cistern

With those

Whom he had killed.”

Jeremiah explains that this big cistern was able to hold 80 bodies because this cistern was more like a pit or a trench that King Asa of Judah (911-870 BCE) had built over 300 years earlier. At that time he was having a war standoff with King Baasha of Israel (909-886 BCE) about Ramah. Thus, he built the city of Mizpah according to 1 Kings, chapter 15. This was then some kind of large trench pit rather than a simple well, so that it was able to hold all these bodies. There was no mention of the bodies of the other Judeans and Chaldeans who had been killed a couple of days earlier.

False justice (Isa 10:1-10:4)

“Woe to you

Who make iniquitous decrees!

Woe to you

Who write oppressive statutes!

You turn aside

The needy from justice!

You rob the poor of my people

Of their right!

Widows may be your spoil!

You make the orphans your prey!

What will you do

On the day of punishment?

What will you do

In the calamity

That will come from afar?

To whom will you flee for help?

Where will you leave your wealth?

Will you crouch among the prisoners?

Will you fall among the slain?

For all this

His anger has not turned away.

His hand is still stretched out.”

Isaiah then curses those who practice injustice, those who make evil decrees and oppressive statutes. He was against those who took away justice and robbed the poor people of their rights. These unjust people took stuff from the widows and the orphans as if they were taking spoil after a war or prey for an animal. What were they going to do on the punishment day? In troubles, who would help them? Where were they going to leave their wealth? They might end up as a prisoner or get killed. Once again, this little section ends with the refrain that the angry hand of Yahweh has not turned away, since it is still stretched out today.

The letter from Rome to the Egyptian king (1 Macc 15:15-15:21)

“The following was written.

‘Lucius, consul of the Romans,

To King Ptolemy,

Greetings!

The envoys of the Jews

Have come to us as our friends and allies.

They have come to renew our ancient friendship and alliance.

They had been sent by the high priest Simon and the Jewish people.

They have brought a gold shield weighing one thousand minas.

We therefore have decided to write

To the kings and the countries

So that they should not seek their harm.

They should not make war against them.

They should not make war against their cities and their country.

That they should not make alliances with those who war against them.

It has seemed good to us to accept the shield from them.

Therefore if any scoundrels have fled to you from their country,

Hand them over to Simon the high priest,

So that he may punish them according to their law.’”

This Roman letter is from Lucius Calpurnius Piso the Roman Consul of the Roman Senate from 140-139 BCE. He seems to be sending this letter to King Ptolemy VII who ruled in Egypt from 145-116 BCE, so this is the right time frame. Envoys had been sent by Simon and the Jews to Rome to renew their alliance and friendship. They brought with them a gold shield that was mentioned in the previous chapter. The Romans accepted this shield. Lucius then decided to write to the kings and countries that no one should invade their cities, fight a war with them, or form an alliance against them. If there were any problems with scoundrels fleeing, see Simon the high priest, although he was not called a king or even an ethnarch.