The priests in the Temple (Mt 12:5-12:5)

“Have you not read

In the law

That on the Sabbath

The priests in the temple

Break the Sabbath.

Yet they are guiltless?”

 

ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν καὶ ἀναίτιοί εἰσιν;

 

This saying is unique to Matthew.  He has Jesus cite an example in Numbers, chapter 28:9-10, where there was a special sacrifice only on the Sabbath.  This sacrifice had two male one-year old lambs without blemish, and two-tenths of an ephah of choice flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering.  This was the burnt offering every Sabbath.  This was in addition to the regular burnt offerings and the drink offerings.  However, this sacrifice was not mentioned in any other place in the Torah.  Jesus asked them if they had read the law (ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ) where on the Sabbath (ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν), the priests in the temple (οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ) broke or profaned the Sabbath with these sacrifices (τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν), yet they were guiltless (καὶ ἀναίτιοί εἰσιν).

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Question for the priests about holiness (Hag 2:11-2:12)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Ask the priests

For a ruling.

If one carries

Consecrated meat

In the fold

Of one’s garment,

Then if the fold

Of his garment,

Touches

Bread,

Or stew,

Or wine,

Or oil,

Or any kind of food,

Does it become holy?’

The priests answered.

‘No.’”

Haggai gave an example of what Yahweh was talking about.  Haggai was to ask the priests about holiness.  If someone was carrying consecrated holy meat in the fold or cover of his garment and it touched bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other kind of food, would that food then become holy by touching it?  That was the dilemma.  How could holiness be passed on?  The priests answered negatively, by saying no, because these things could not become holy by merely touching a holy thing accidently.

The three great men (Ezek 14:14-14:16)

“‘Even if

These three men,

Noah,

Daniel,

Job,

Were in that land,

They would save

Only their own lives

By their righteousness.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘If I send

Wild animals

Through the land,

To ravage it,

Thus it is made desolate,

So that no one

May pass through

Because of the animals.

Even if these three men

Were in that land,

As I live,

They would deliver

Neither sons,

Nor daughters.

They alone

Would be saved.

But the land

Would be desolate.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh seems to single out 3 great men, Noah, Daniel, and Job. Strangely enough, all 3 are not mainstays of Israelite history. Noah, in Genesis, precedes Abraham, thus is pre-Israelite. Daniel is a prophet who lived after the time of Ezekiel, with a book named after him. Job was, of course, not an Israelite in his famous book. They seem like unlikely heroes for the exiles. The point of this oracle was that individuals could not save a country of wicked people. Their righteousness would only save their own lives. Quite often this is used as an example of individual responsibility. However, it can be seen as an example of the limited impact of good people. The land would be devastated by wild animals, despite these 3 good men. They would not even be able to save their own sons or daughters. Only they would be saved since the land would be desolate.

Let us not fall into slavery (Jdt 8:21-8:24)

“If we are captured,

All Judea will be captured.

Our sanctuary will be plundered.

He will make us pay for its desecration.

The slaughter of our kindred,

The captivity of the land,

The desolation of our inheritance,

All this he will bring upon our heads among the Gentiles.

Wherever we serve as slaves,

We shall be an offense and a disgrace,

In the eyes of those who acquire us.

Our slavery will not bring us into favor,

But the Lord our God will turn it to dishonor.

Therefore, my brothers,

Let us set an example for our kindred.

Their lives depend upon us.

The sanctuary,

Both the temple and the altar,

Rests upon us.”

If they suffer defeat, Judea will be defeated. It is no longer Judah. The sanctuary in Jerusalem will be desecrated. Our relatives will be killed. Our inheritance will be lost. The captivity will be a reality. We will be slaves to the Gentiles, an offense and disgrace to all. Our slavery will not bring us favor but dishonor with God. We have to set an example for all our kindred. They depend on us to defend the sanctuary, the Temple, and the altar. It is our challenge.