Barnabas, Ananias, and Sapphira

Barnabas sold a field and gave the proceeds to the community.  On the other hand, Ananias and Sapphira kept some of the proceeds.  Peter then spoke to Ananias.  He told him that he had lied to God.  Thus, Ananias died and was buried.  The wife of Ananias came to Peter, so that Peter asked her “What did you sell the land for?”  She gave the same response as her husband.  Peter said that she was about to die also.  She then died, so that great fear spread among this emerging Christian community.

Ananias (Acts 22:12)

“A certain Ananias

Was a devout man

According to the law,

Well-spoken of

By all the Jews

Who lived there.”

Ἀνανίας δέ τις ἀνὴρ εὐλαβὴς κατὰ τὸν νόμον, μαρτυρούμενος ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν κατοικούντων Ἰουδαίων,

The author of Acts indicated that Paul said that a certain Ananias (Ἀνανίας) was a devout man (δέ τις ἀνὴρ εὐλαβὴς) according to the law (κατὰ τὸν νόμον), well-spoken or witnessed (μαρτυρούμενος) by all the Jews who lived there (ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν κατοικούντων Ἰουδαίων).  There was a slight but major difference about what was said in chapter 9:10.  There Ananias was not only a well-respected Jewish person, but also a disciple of Jesus.  Paul neglected to mention that here.  “There was a disciple (Ἦν δέ τις μαθητὴς) in Damascus (ἐν Δαμασκῷ) named Ananias (ὀνόματι Ἀνανίας).”  In chapter 9, “The Lord (ὁ Κύριος) said to Ananias (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτὸν) in a vision (ἐν ὁράματι).  ‘Ananias (Ἀνανία)!’”  There was no mention of a vision of Ananias here, but that would not be necessary before this predominantly Jewish audience.  Ananias responded with the common response of the Israelite prophets.  “Here I am! Lord!”  Here Paul’s speech has a shorter version of this, without any mention of a vision.  In fact, all the Jewish people living in Damascus liked Ananias, but there was no mention that he was also a disciple (Ἦν δέ τις μαθητὴς) in this speech before the Jerusalem Jews.  Paul’s speech in Acts, chapter 26, had nothing at all about Ananias.  Here Ananias seemed more like a pious Jew than a Christian disciple.  Do you know the difference between a pious Jew and a pious Christian?

Ananias (Acts 9:10)

“Now there was a disciple

In Damascus

Named Ananias.

The Lord said to him

In a vision.

‘Ananias!’

He said.

‘Here I am!

Lord!’”

Ἦν δέ τις μαθητὴς ἐν Δαμασκῷ ὀνόματι Ἀνανίας, καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐν ὁράματι ὁ Κύριος Ἀνανία. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἰδοὺ ἐγώ, Κύριε.

The author of Acts indicated that there was a disciple (Ἦν δέ τις μαθητὴς) in Damascus (ἐν Δαμασκῷ) named Ananias (ὀνόματι Ἀνανίας).  The Lord (ὁ Κύριος) said to him (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτὸν) in a vision (ἐν ὁράματι).  ‘Ananias (Ἀνανία)!’  He said (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν).  ‘Here I am (Ἰδοὺ ἐγώ)!  Lord (Κύριε)!’”  A disciple of Jesus in Damascus, named Ananias, had a vision to go and find Saul of Tarsus, who would also have a similar vision.  Ananias responded with the common response of the Israelite prophets.  “Here I am! Lord!”  Saul’s speech had a shorter version of this in Acts, chapter 22:12, without any mention of a vision, “Ananias (Ἀνανίας) was a devout man (δέ τις ἀνὴρ εὐλαβὴς) according to the law (κατὰ τὸν νόμον), witnessed (μαρτυρούμενος) by all the Jews living there (ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν κατοικούντων Ἰουδαίων).”  In fact, all the Jewish people living in Damascus liked Ananias, but there was no mention that he was a disciple (Ἦν δέ τις μαθητὴς) of Jesus, like here.  Saul’s speech in Acts, chapter 26, had nothing at all about Ananias.  Would you respond to God by saying, “Here I am! Lord!”?

Judith (Jdt 8:1-8:8)

“Now in those days, Judith heard about these things. She was the daughter of Merari son of Ox, son of Joseph, son of Oziel, son of Elkiah, son of Ananias, son of Gideon, son of Raphaim, son of Ahitub, son of Elijah, son of Hilkiah, son of Eliab, son of Nathanael, son of Salamiel, son of Sarasadai, son of Israel. Her husband Manasseh, who belonged to her tribe and family, had died during the barley harvest. As he stood overseeing those who were binding sheaves in the field, he was overcome by the burning heat. He took to his bed and died in his town Bethulia. So they buried him with his ancestors in the field between Dothan and Balamon. Judith had remained as a widow for three years and four months at home where she set up a tent for herself on the roof of her house. She put sackcloth about her waist and dressed in widow’s clothing. She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except the day before the Sabbath and the Sabbath itself, the day before the new moon and the day of the new moon, and the festivals and days of rejoicing of the house of Israel. She was beautiful in appearance. She was very lovely to behold. Her husband Manasseh had left her gold and silver, men and women slaves, livestock, and fields. She maintained this estate. No one spoke ill of her. She feared God with great devotion.”

Now the main protagonist of this book appears on the scene, almost half way through this book. We learn about Judith’s rich genealogical background that includes many important people. What can we tell from her genealogy? She was the daughter of Merari, which is a Levite name. Joseph was a common name also. The names of Oziel and Elkiah are unique to her. The other names associated with famous people were Gideon, Elijah, and Hilkiah, but there was no attempt to associate those men with these men mentioned here. Many of the other names are hard to connect with anyone. Her husband, of the same tribe and family, died of sunstroke overseeing his workers. I wonder what happened to the workers. She was a well to do widow for over 3 years. She was very upright in all that she did.   Her name, Judith, literally means female Jew. She had a tent on her roof and wore sackcloth. She fasted all the time except for the Sabbath eve, the Sabbath, the new moons, and the other Jewish festivals. New moons keep appearing as a day to celebrate. She was beautiful, of course. On top of that, she was rich, inheriting her husband’s estate of gold, silver, slaves, livestock, and fields. There is no mention of her children if there were any. No one spoke ill of her because she feared God with a great devotion. This is the kind of description that many medieval female Christian saints enjoyed. She heard about what was going on in town.