Will come upon you,
When your enemies
Will set up ramparts
They will hem you in
On every side.”
ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν,
Luke indicated that Jesus remarked that bad days were coming to Jerusalem (ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ). Jesus said that it would come to them when their enemies would put up a barricade against them (καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι). They would surround them (καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε) so that they would be hemmed in on every side (καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν). This is the only Greek biblical use of the word περικυκλώσουσίν that means to hem them in on every side, encircle, surround, or encompass. Jesus was using the words and images of the ancient Israelite prophets against Jerusalem. Isaiah, chapter 29:1-3, called Jerusalem Ariel, a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar. Isaiah, warned Jerusalem about what was going to happen to it. Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it. They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust. Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile. Jeremiah, chapter 6:6-8, warned Jerusalem that its enemies were going to cut down trees in order to make a ramp siege against Jerusalem, because this city needed to be punished. There was nothing but oppression and wickedness within her. Jerusalem was a place of violence and destruction with sickness and wounded people all around. Yahweh was going to turn away in disgust against Jerusalem. Thus, it would become a desolate uninhabited land, if it did not heed his warning. Ezekiel, chapter 4:1-3, also condemned Jerusalem with Ezekiel’s symbolic action. A voice told Ezekiel to be an expert model Lego builder of the siege of Jerusalem. Ezekiel, the son of man, was to take a brick and portray the city of Jerusalem. He was to put the siege works with a siege wall against this city. He was to put a ramp and camps against this city with battering rams all around it. Then he was to take an iron plate and make an iron wall between himself and the city, looking at it. Thus, there was a state of siege, a sign for the house of Israel. Ezekiel was part of the exiles from 598 BCE before the taking of Jerusalem and the second captivity in 587 BCE. Of course, here this was allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Roman soldiers putting down a revolution in Judea. Luke would have known about this at the time of his writing. Have you ever seen a city destroyed?
“Woe to you!
This is the city
Where David encamped!
Add year to year!
Let the festivals run their round!
Yet I will distress Ariel!
There shall be moaning!
There shall be lamentation!
Jerusalem shall be to me
Like an altar hearth.
I will encamp against you.
I will besiege you with towers.
I will raise siege works against you.
Then deep from the earth,
You shall speak.
From low in the dust,
Your words shall come.
Your voice shall come from the ground
Like the voice of a ghost.
Your speech shall whisper
Out of the dust.”
Ariel is a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar. Yahweh, via Isaiah, warns Jerusalem about what is going to happen to it. Perhaps this is before the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE. Jerusalem was where King David had lived and where festivals continued on an annual basis. However, Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it. They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust. Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile.
“I gathered them by the river that runs to Ahava. There we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the descendents of Levi. Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were leaders, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were wise. I sent them to Iddo, the leader at the place called Casiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his colleagues the temple servants at Casiphia. He should send us ministers for the house of our God. Since the gracious hand of our God was upon us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the descendents of Mahli son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and kinsmen, eighteen. Also they brought Hashabiah and with him Jeshaiah of the descendents of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, twenty. Besides two hundred twenty of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites, also came. These were all mentioned by name.”
Once again, we have the use of the personal pronoun singular, “I gathered them.” Over and over again “I” appears. This is a personal first person account of what happened. The Ahava River is not known, but probably a tributary of the Euphrates River in Babylon. Ezra realized that he had no Levites. So he sent a group of people to Iddo who was the leader at Casiphia. There 4 or 5 different people with the name of Iddo, including Levites, and prophets. This one was a temple slave leader at Casiphia, which must have been an important place for a group of Israelite exiles because they had so many temple slaves. They may have had their own house of God there in northern Babylon. Interesting enough this Iddo sent 2 Levite families of 19 and 20 people from the Mahli and Merari branch of Levites. He also sent 220 Temple servants who were to help the Levites. There must have been a lot of them there.
“Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant warrior from Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down the two sons of Ariel from Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. He killed an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits tall. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand like a weaver’s beam. However, Benaiah went against him with a staff. He snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand. Then he killed him with his own spear. Such were the things Benaiah son of Jehoiada did. He won a name beside the three warriors. He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. David put him in charge of his bodyguards.”
Once again, this is based almost word for word from 2 Samuel, chapter 23. There are a lot of people in the biblical literature with the name of Benaiah. In fact, this Benaiah appears quite a lot because he was the body guard of David. Once again, this warrior was famous for his great masterful deeds. Although he was pretty good, he was not good enough to make it into the elite 3. He had killed the 2 sons of Ariel, the Moabite. On a snowy day he killed a lion. There seemed to be a lot of lions to kill. He also killed an Egyptian with his own spear by stealing it from him. Here he was a man of great stature, 5 cubits or over 7 feet tall instead of being handsome as he was in 2 Samuel. The spear was like a weaver’s beam. In fact, the biblical author indicates, with “such were the things he did” that there were many stories told about him.