The redemption of Jerusalem (Lk 2:38-2:38)

“At that moment,

Anna came there.

She began

To praise God.

She began

To speak

About the child

To all who were looking

For the redemption

Of Jerusalem.”

 

καὶ αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐπιστᾶσα ἀνθωμολογεῖτο τῷ Θεῷ καὶ ἐλάλει περὶ αὐτοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς προσδεχομένοις λύτρωσιν Ἰερουσαλήμ

 

Luke said that at that moment or hour (καὶ αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ), when Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were there in the Temple, Anna, the prophetess daughter of Phanuel came to them (ἐπιστᾶσα).  She began to praise God (ἀνθωμολογεῖτο τῷ Θεῷ), as was her custom.  However, she also spoke about this child Jesus (καὶ ἐλάλει περὶ αὐτοῦ).  He would be important for all those who were looking for or expecting the liberation or redemption of Jerusalem (πᾶσιν τοῖς προσδεχομένοις λύτρωσιν Ἰερουσαλήμ).  This old prophet lady noticed Jesus in the same way that the old righteous man Simeon had.  She came over to him and his parents.  She said that Jesus would be important for anyone concerned about the future of Jerusalem.  Notice that it was not Israel, but Jerusalem that would be saved, liberated, or redeemed.

Old Anna lived in the Temple (Lk 2:37-2:37)

“Then Anna lived

As a widow

To the age of eighty-four.

She never left

The Temple.

She worshiped there

With fasting

And prayer,

Night and day.”

 

καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων, ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν.

 

Next Luke spoke about how this old female prophet, Anna was a widow, living in the Temple, worshiping and fasting day and night.  Thus, she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four (καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων).  She never left the Temple (ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ).  She worshiped or served there with fasting and prayer (νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα), night and day (νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν).  She was a very devout old Jewish lady.  Once again, Luke indicated that she was a widow that did not remarry, but dedicated herself to the Temple worship.

Tobias in Ecbatana (Tob 14:12-14:15)

“When Tobias’ mother Anna died, he buried her beside his father. Then he and his wife and their children returned to Media. He settled in Ecbatana with Raguel his father-in-law. He treated his parents-in-law with great respect in their old age. He buried them in Ecbatana of Media with honor and magnificent funerals. He inherited both the property of Raguel and that of his father Tobit. He died highly respected at the age of one hundred seventeen years. Before he died, he heard of the destruction of Nineveh. He saw its prisoners being led into Media, those whom King Cyrus of Media had taken captive. Tobias praised God for all he had done to the people of Nineveh and Assyria. Before he died, he rejoiced over Nineveh. He blessed the Lord God forever and ever. Amen.”

After the death and burial of his mother Anna, Tobias with his wife and children returned to Ecbatana to be with the parents of his wife Sarah. He treated his elderly in-laws well, and buried them correctly. He then inherited both the estates of his father Tobit and his father-in-law Raguel. It made sense to return to Ecbatana, so that his wife could be with her elderly parents. Before Tobias died, King Cyrus took over Nineveh and Assyria. In fact, Tobias praised God for the Persians and King Cyrus. There definitely was a strong tendency to favor the Persians over the Assyrians and Babylonians. He died blessing God forever, so that it was fitting to end with an Amen.

Tobit wants Tobias to leave Nineveh (Tob 14:8-14:11)

“Now, my children,

I command you.

Serve God faithfully!

Do what is pleasing in his sight!

Your children are also commanded to do what is right.

Give alms!

Be mindful of God!

Bless his name at all times!

Love God with all sincerity and with all their strength!

So now, my son, leave Nineveh!  

Do not remain here!

On whatever day you bury your mother beside me,

Do not stay overnight within the confines of the city.

I see that there is much wickedness within it.

The people are without shame.

See, my son, what Nadab did to Ahikar who had reared him.

Was he not, while still alive, brought down into the earth?

God repaid him to his face for this shameful treatment.

Ahikar came out into the light,

But Nadab went into the eternal darkness,

Because he tried to kill Ahikar.

Because he gave alms,

Ahikar escaped the fatal trap that Nadab had set for him.

Nadab fell into it himself.

He was destroyed.

Now, my children see what almsgiving accomplishes.

You can see what injustice does.

It brings death!

But now my breath fails me.

Then they laid him on his bed and he died.

He received an honorable funeral.”

The final words of Tobit to his son Tobias were about obeying God and his commandments. He wanted Tobias and his sons to serve God faithfully, to do what God wants. They were to bless his name with sincerity and strength. Due to the bad situation in Nineveh, he wanted them to leave there as soon as they buried his wife, Anna, Tobias’ mother. In fact, he told them not to stay overnight in Nineveh after the burial. He cited as an example his nephew Ahikar, who was a government official. His nephew Nadab tried to kill him, but instead fell into the trap and killed himself. This was an example of the children of Nineveh who were behaving badly. Once again, on his deathbed, Tobit praised the value of almsgiving, citing that as why Ahikar was saved.

The sad farewell (Tob 5:18-5:21)

“But his mother, began to weep. She said to Tobit.

‘Why is it that you have sent my child away?

Is he not the staff of our hand as he goes in and out before us?

Do not heap money upon money.

Let it be a ransom for our child.

The life that is given to us by the Lord is enough for us.’

Tobit said to her.

‘Do not worry.

Our child will leave in good health.

He will return to us in good health, safe and sound.

Say no more!

Do not fear for them, my sister.

A good angel will accompany him.

His journey will be successful.

He will come back in good health.’

She stopped weeping.”

Anna, the mother of Tobias, was crying. She wanted to know why he was sending her child away. He was so helpful around the house. Why was he seeking more money, when they were getting by. It was like he was ransoming his son. The Lord had provided for them. Tobit replied that she should not be afraid. He was leaving in good health and would return in good health. He was going to be protected by an angel. With that, she stopped crying. This was like sending your child off to college. You never know what is going to happen.

The fight of Tobit with his wife over the goat (Tob 2:11-2:14)

“At that time, also, my wife Anna earned money at women’s work. She used to send what she made to the owners. They would pay wages to her. One day, on the seventh of Dystrus, when she cut off a piece she had woven and sent it to its owners, they paid her full wages. They also gave her a young goal for a meal. When she returned to me, the goat began to bleat. So I called her and said. ‘Where did you get this goat? It is surely not stolen, is it? Return it to its owners. We have no right to eat anything stolen.’ She said to me. ‘It was given to me as a gift in addition to my wages.’ But I did not believe her. I told her to return it to its owners. I became flushed with anger against her over this. Then she replied to me.

‘Where are your acts of charity?

Where are your righteous deeds?

These things are known about you!’”

His wife did women’s work, clearly the classic way of thinking about the work that only women would do. She was some kind of seamstress working with cloth, perhaps making or mending things, for which she got paid for this work. The 7th of Dystrus is the Greek name for the Semitic month of Adar in our February/March time frame. So one day, Anna showed up with her wages plus a goat. Tobit did not like the bleating or noise of the goat. He insinuated that she had stolen the goat. He would not believe that anyone would give her goat. He got angry about it. She then mocked him about his acts of charity and righteousness. Tobit was too self-righteous and would not believe his own wife.

Tobit returns to Nineveh (Tob 2:1-2:8)

“Then during the reign of King Esarhaddon I returned home. My wife Anna and my son Tobias were restored to me. At our festival of Pentecost, which is the sacred festival of the weeks, a good dinner was prepared for me. I reclined to eat. When the table was set for me and an abundance of food placed before me, I said to my son Tobias.

‘Go, my child!

Bring whatever poor person you may find of our people,

Among the exiles in Nineveh,

Who is wholeheartedly mindful of God.

He shall eat together with me.

I will wait for you until you come back.’

When he returned, he said. ‘Father!’ I replied. ‘Here I am, my child.’ Then he went on to say.

‘Look, father!

One of our people has been murdered

He has been thrown into the market place.

Now he lies there strangled.’

Then I sprang up. I left the dinner before ever tasting it. I removed the body from the square. I laid it in one of the rooms until sunset when I might bury it. When I returned, I washed myself and ate my food in sorrow. Then I remembered the prophecy of Amos, how he said against Bethel.

‘Your festivals shall be turned into mourning.

All your songs into lamentation.’

I wept. When the sun had set, I went and dug a grave. I buried him. My neighbors laughed at me. They said.

‘Is he still not afraid?

He has already been hunted down

To be put to death for doing this.

Yet here he is again burying the dead!’”

Tobit had been on the run. With the coming of King Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE) he returned home to Nineveh to be with his wife and son. They celebrated the festival of weeks, 50 days after Passover. Tobit asked his son to invite one of the Israelite exiles to come to eat with them since they had so much food. However, his son Tobias reported back that one of their kinsmen Israelite had been killed. His strangled body was lying in the town square. Tobit immediately got up and removed the body from the square into a room nearby. He then ate his meal, but he remembered the prophecy of Amos about festivals turned into mourning. The citation is from the Book of Amos, chapter 8, who lived around 750 BCE, so that Tobit might have known him. After eating and weeping, Tobit went out, dug a grave, and buried the body. Meanwhile his neighbors were laughing at him for doing the same thing that he hunted own for, burying the dead.