The Pharisees ask for a sign from heaven (Mt 16:1-16:1)

“The Pharisees

And the Sadducees came.

They wanted

To test Jesus.

They asked him

To show them

A sign from heaven.”

 

Καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ Σαδδουκαῖοι πειράζοντες ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτοῖς.

 

The asking for signs can be found in Mark, chapter 8:11, and Luke, chapter 11:16, and earlier in Matthew, chapter 12:38, plus here, but there are slight differences.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus (Καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ Σαδδουκαῖοι).  They wanted to test or tempt him (πειράζοντες).  They asked him to show them a sign from heaven or a heavenly validation of his work (ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτοῖς).  Instead of the Scribes and Pharisees wanting a sign, as earlier in this work, here it is the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  There had been no mention of the Sadducees since the story about John the Baptist in chapter 3:7, while the Pharisees were present all over the place.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Sadducees, on the other hand, were generally aristocratic priestly officials, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications.  They were less concerned about oral traditions, so that they might have been political religious rivals to the Pharisees.  Rarely did they agree on anything, since there may have been only about 6.000 in each group.  However, here both these groups wanted to see a sign from Jesus.  John the Baptist had been critical of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees earlier in Matthew, chapter 3:7.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem (Mt 15:1-15:1)

“Then Pharisees

And Scribes

Came to Jesus

From Jerusalem.

 

Τότε προσέρχονται τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων Φαρισαῖοι καὶ γραμματεῖς λέγοντες

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:1.  Once again, there will be a confrontation with the Pharisees and the Scribes (Φαρισαῖοι καὶ γραμματεῖς).  However, this time, these Pharisees will come to Jesus from Jerusalem (Τότε προσέρχονται τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων).  They wanted to speak with Jesus (λέγοντες).  These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  The Pharisees, on the other hand, were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had their own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  These Pharisees in the New Testament, engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples.

Seeking signs (Mt 12:38-12:38)

“Then some of the Scribes

And Pharisees

Said to him,

‘Teacher!

We wish

To see a sign

From you.’”

 

Τότε ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ τινες τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε, θέλομεν ἀπὸ σοῦ σημεῖον ἰδεῖν.

 

This seeking of signs was common among all the synoptic gospel writers, Matthew, here and chapter 16:1-4, Mark, chapter 8:11-12, and Luke, chapter 11:29.  Once again, the Scribes and Pharisees wanted a sign.  These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  The Pharisees, on the other hand, were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament, engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  Some of these scribes and Pharisees (Τότε ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ τινες τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων) asked Jesus, as they called him a teacher or rabbi (λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε).  They wanted to see a sign from Jesus (θέλομεν ἀπὸ σοῦ σημεῖον ἰδεῖν).

The Pharisees question the power of Jesus (Mt 9:34-9:34)

“But the Pharisees said.

‘He casts out demons

By the leader of demons.’”

 

οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἔλεγον Ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια.

 

There is something similar to this in chapter 12:24 of Matthew and Luke, chapter ll:15.  The Pharisees complained (οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἔλεγον) that Jesus was casting out demons or evil spirits (ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια) because he was the leader or the prince of these demons or evil spirits (Ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων).  These Pharisees did not say that Jesus did’t have power over these evil spirits.  Quite the opposite, they said that he got his power from evil spirits or demons themselves because he was their leader.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament, engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  However, Paul the Apostle may have been a Pharisee before his conversion.  Maybe Jesus and some of his followers were Pharisees, so that these arguments with the Pharisees may have been internal arguments.  Or is this portrait of the Pharisees in the New Testament a caricature, since the late first century Christians were fighting with the emerging Rabbinic Pharisees?

The Pharisees complain (Mt 9:11-9:11)

“When the Pharisees

Saw this,

They said

To his disciples.

‘Why does your teacher

Eat

With tax collectors

And sinners?’”

 

καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν;

 

This story about the Pharisees complaining about this dinner party is similar to Mark, chapter 2:16, and Luke, chapter 5:30, but here it is only the Pharisees speaking out, since there is no mention of scribes here, as in the other two stories.  These Pharisees saw this dinner party (καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) from the outside.  Then they asked the disciples of Jesus (ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ), and not Jesus himself, why was Jesus, their teacher (ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν), eating with tax collectors and sinners (Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει).  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament, engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  However, Paul the Apostle may have been a Pharisee before his conversion.  Maybe Jesus and some of his followers were Pharisees, so that these arguments with the Pharisees may have been internal arguments.  Or is this portrait of the Pharisees in the New Testament a caricature, since the late first century Christians were fighting with the emerging Rabbinic Pharisees?

The little horn beast was killed (Dan 7:11-7:11)

“I watched then

Because of the noise

Of the arrogant words

That the horn

Was speaking.

And as I watched,

The beast

Was put to death.

Its body destroyed.

It was given over

To be burned

With fire.”

Daniel watched as the noisy arrogant little horn beast was killed. His body was burned and destroyed. There seemed to be a lot of anger at this little horn, the Greek King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 BCE), perhaps indicating the date of this work. 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, went into great detail about this king.

The outside occupation of the land (Ezek 7:22-7:24)

“I will avert

My face

From them.

Thus they may profane

My treasured place.

The violent ones

Shall enter it.

They shall profane it.

Make a chain!

The land is

Full of bloody crimes.

The city is

Full of violence.

I will bring

The worst

Of the nations

To take possession

Of their houses.

I will put an end

To the arrogance

Of the strong.  

Their holy places

Shall be profaned.”

Outsiders will occupy Jerusalem. Yahweh was going to turn his face away from the inhabitants of the holy city. Thus these outsiders would profane the treasured places of Jerusalem. Violent wicked people would enter the holy city and desecrate it. The people of Jerusalem would be captured. They would be forced to make a chain, and to be put in chains. The land would be full of bloody crimes. The city would be full of violence. Yahweh was going to bring the worst of the nations to take possession of their houses. Yahweh was going to put an end to the arrogant and strong ones of the city, while their holy places would be profaned.

The archers against Babylon (Jer 50:29-50:29)

“Summon archers

Against Babylon!

All who bend the bow!

Encamp all around her!

Let no one escape!

Repay her

According to her deeds!

Just as she had done,

Do to her!

She has arrogantly

Defied Yahweh,

The Holy One of Israel!”

Like earlier in this chapter, the main fighters against Babylon were the archers with their bows and arrows. They were to surround Babylon, and not let anyone get away. They were to repay her for the deeds that that she had done. They should do unto her, what she had done to them. Babylon had been arrogant in defying Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, so that she deserved what she got.

The pride of Moab (Jer 48:28-48:30)

“‘Leave the towns!

Live on the rocks!

O inhabitants of Moab!

Be like the dove

That nests On the sides

Of the mouth

Of a gorge!

We have heard

Of the pride of Moab.

He is very proud

Of his loftiness.

Of his pride,

Of his arrogance,

Of the haughtiness

Of his heart.

I myself know

His insolence.’

Says Yahweh.

‘His boasts are false.

His deeds are false.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, wants them to leave their towns and go live in the rocks and gorges. They should be like doves with their nests on the sides of mountains. The Moabites were very proud and arrogant, much like in Isaiah, chapter 16. They were, in fact, proud of their loftiness and haughtiness of heart. Yahweh personally knew about their insolence. They had both false boasts and false deeds.

The future defeat of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:12-10:12)

“When Yahweh

Has finished

All his work

On Mount Zion,

In Jerusalem,

He will punish

The arrogant boasting

Of the king of Assyria

With his haughty pride.”

Isaiah proclaims that Yahweh would punish the king of Assyria for his arrogant prideful boasting. However, Yahweh still had some work to do at Mount Zion in Jerusalem. When he finished that, he would take care of things.