The Christmas scene birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7-2:7)

“Mary gave birth

To her first-born son.

She wrapped him

In bands

Of swaddling cloths.

She laid him

In a manger,

Because there was

No place

For them

In the inn.”

 

καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

 

Luke explained in great detail about the birth of Jesus, his clothing, and the manger, that has become the famous Christmas scene that most have come to know and love.  Matthew, chapter 2:1, had no details like this in his story about the birth of Jesus, while Mark and John had no infancy narratives at all.  In fact, Matthew said that the Magi visited Mary and the child in a house in chapter 2:11, not a manger.  Luke reported that Mary gave birth to her first-born son (καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον).  Did that imply that there were other children?  Within the Jewish tradition, the first-born male child would be dedicated to God with special legal and family rights, as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:2, where Yahweh got the first-born of everything, as a consecration to God.  In Numbers, chapter 3:12, the Levites take the place of the first born as a dedication to God.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 21:17, the first born had all the rights versus the other children.  Mary wrapped the baby Jesus with bands of cloth or swaddling clothes (καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν), as it is often called.  These tight bands of cloth kept the arms and legs of the newborn from wailing away, while also keeping the child warm.  Then Mary laid him in a manger (καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ), because there was no place for them in the lodging inn (διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι).  This manger (ἐν φάτνῃ) was a feeding trough for horses and cattle.  Thus, Jesus was born in a place where animals would feed.  He then would offer himself as the bread of life.  Apparently, they were in a barn because there were no appropriate lodging places for a pregnant expecting woman.  There was no indication that Joseph had other relatives in Bethlehem where they might stay.  Just by coincidence, I am posting this blog on December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve.

Advertisements

The curse for the worthless shepherd (Zech 11:17-10:17)

“Cursed be my worthless shepherd!

They desert the flock!

May the sword

Strike his arm!

May the sword

Strike his right eye!

Let his arm

Be completely withered!

Let his right eye be

Utterly blinded!’”

Yahweh had a curse for the worthless shepherds, who had deserted their flocks.  Yahweh wanted the sword to strike their arms and right eyes.  Yahweh wanted their arms withered and their eyes blinded.

The recent bad activities of Jerusalem (Ezek 23:40-23:42)

“They even sent

For men

To come from far away.

A messenger

Was sent.

They came.

You bathed yourself

For them.

You painted your eyes.

You decked yourself

With ornaments.

You sat

On a stately couch.

You had a table

Spread before it.

You had placed

My incense

With my oil

On it.

The sound

Of a raucous multitude

Was around you.

Many of the rabble

Were brought in drunk

From the wilderness.

They put bracelets

On the arms

Of the women.

They put beautiful crowns

Upon their heads.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, seemed to be aiming these remarks at the people of Jerusalem for their recent behavior. She, Jerusalem, had sent messengers to invite men from far away to come to Jerusalem. In order to get ready for them, Jerusalem bathed herself, painted her eyes, and put on her colorful ornaments. She sat on a stately couch with a table before it. She placed Yahweh’s incense and oil on this table. Then one could hear the sound of a loud raucous mob that had gathered around her. Many of these drunkard rabble rousers from the wilderness put bracelets on her arms and beautiful crowns on her head. This seems to be an allusion to an invitation for drunken foreigners to come to Jerusalem to take advantage of her.

Gifts of jewelry (Ezek 16:11-16:13)

“I adorned you

With ornaments.

I put bracelets

On your arms.

I put a chain

On your neck.

I put a ring

On your nose,

I put earrings

In your ears.

I put a beautiful crown

Upon your head.

You were adorned

With gold.

You were adorned

With silver.”

Yahweh gave young Jerusalem all kinds of jewelry. He gave her bracelets for her arms. He put a chain on her neck. He also put a ring in her nose. See, rings in the nose are ornamental. He also put earrings in her ears with a beautiful crown on her head. She was all adorned with gold and silver. This young girl had all this fine jewelry to wear.

The weapons of the new Jerusalem (Isa 54:16-54:17)

“‘See!

It is I!

I have created the smith

Who blows the fire of coals.

He produces a weapon

Fit for its purpose.

I have also created the ravager

To destroy.

No weapon that is fashioned

Against you

Shall prosper.

You shall confute every tongue

That rises against you in judgment.

This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh

Their vindication is from me.’

So says Yahweh.”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh explain his position about the arms and protection of Jerusalem. Yahweh has created the blacksmiths who stand before the blast furnaces creating these weapons of destruction. He has also created the people who oppose them. No weapon will be successful against the Israelites. They will also have to fight off verbal aggression that would arise against them. These servants of Yahweh are his heritage, so that he will vindicate them.

Description of the male lover (Song 5:10-5:16)

Female lover

“My beloved is all radiant.

He is ruddy.

He is distinguished among ten thousand.

His head is the finest gold.

His locks are wavy.

His locks are black as a raven.

His eyes are like doves,

Beside springs of water,

Bathed in milk,

Fitly set.

His cheeks are like beds of spices,

Yielding fragrance.

His lips are lilies,

Distilling liquid myrrh.

His arms are rounded gold,

Set with jewels.

His body is an ivory work,

Encrusted with sapphires.

His legs are alabaster columns,

Set upon bases of gold.

His appearance is like Lebanon,

Choice as the cedars.

His speech is most sweet.

He is altogether desirable.

This is my beloved.

This is my friend.

O daughters of Jerusalem!”

This female lover responded to the daughters of Jerusalem. She explains why her male lover is so special with a long description of him. First of all, he is radiant and ruddy. What does that mean? He is a glowing happy guy with a healthy reddish complexion. He is one in 10,000. He has a golden head with black wavy hair. His eyes are like clean white doves perfectly set in his head. His cheeks are like fragrant spices. His lips are like lilies spreading liquid myrrh. His arms are like rounded gold with jewels set in them. His body is like ivory with sapphires. His legs are like alabaster columns with golden bases as feet. He appears to be like a Lebanon cedar tree. His speech is sweet. He is quite a guy, altogether desirable. He is her beloved and her friend. That is some great description of the perfect man.

The haters (Ps 129:5-129:8)

“May all who hate Zion

Be put to shame!

May they be turned backward!

Let them be like the grass on the housetops.

This grass withers before it grows.

The reapers do not fill their hands.

The binders of sheaves do not fill their arms.

Those who pass by do not say.

‘The blessing of Yahweh be upon you!

We bless you in the name of Yahweh!”

This short psalm ends with the hope that Yahweh will put the haters to shame. The psalmist wanted them put to shame. They were to be turned backwards. He wanted them to be like the grass on the housetops that withered before it grew. Thus the reapers and binders would not fill their hands and arms. In fact, anyone passing by would not bless them in the name of Yahweh.