The questions of the Magi (Mt 2:2-2:2)

“The Magi asked.

‘Where is the child

Who has been born

King of the Jews?

We have observed

His star

At its rising

In the east.

We have come

To pay him homage.’”

 

λέγοντες Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.

 

These magi, because it was more than one, wanted to know where the new born child was (Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς) who was going to be the King of the Jews (βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).  They had observed his star rising in the east (εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ).  They had come to pay homage or worship this new king (ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ).  These seem like legitimate questions from these eastern magi for King Herod.  They might have assumed that this new king would be the child of the current king, since King Herod had the title of King of the Jews.  As astrologers, they had seen this special star in the east.  They were outsiders, not Jewish, so that their insertion into this story indicated a universal appeal to the infant Jesus, who was to be ruler of the Jews.

Restoration of the people of Israel (Am 9:13-9:15)

“Says Yahweh.

‘The time is surely coming

When the one who plows

Shall overtake

The one who reaps.

When the one who treads grapes

Shall overtake

The one who sows the seed.

The mountains shall drip

Sweet wine.

All the hills

Shall flow with it.

I will restore

The fortunes

Of my people Israel.

They shall rebuild

The ruined cities.

They shall

Inhabit them.

They shall

Plant vineyards.

They shall

Drink their wine.

They shall

Make gardens.

They shall

Eat their fruit.

I will plant them

Upon their land.

They shall never again

Be plucked up

Out of the land

That I have given them.’

Says Yahweh

Your God.”

This later oracle of Yahweh assumed that the Israelites had been taken from their land in captivity.  However, in this restoration, those plowing would be greater than those reaping.  Those who treaded the grapes would be more than those sowing the seeds.  There would be abundance and hope all around.  The mountains and hills would drip and flow with abundant sweet wine.  The Israelites would have their fortunes restored, so that they would rebuild their cities and inhabit them.  They would plant vineyards and drink wine.  They would plant gardens with lots of fruit.  These Israelites would be planted on their own land, never to be plucked away again.

Daniel does penance (Dan 9:3-9:3)

“Then I turned

To Yahweh

To seek

An answer,

By prayer,

By supplications,

With fasting,

With sackcloth,

With ashes.”

Daniel, in the first-person singular, turned to Yahweh, and not the God of heaven or the Most High God, as earlier in this book. This was the traditional Hebrew name of Yahweh. Daniel assumed the traditional role of a penitent with prayers and supplications while fasting, and wearing sackcloth with ashes on him.

The end for buyers and sellers (Ezek 7:12-7:13)

“The time has come!

The day draws near!

Let not the buyer rejoice!

Let not the seller mourn!

The wrath is upon

All their multitude.

The seller

Shall not return

To what has been sold,

As long as they remain alive.

The vision concerns

All their multitude.

It shall not be revoked.

Because of their iniquity,

They cannot maintain

Their lives.”

As in Jeremiah, chapter 32, buying and selling land and other things assumed a stable society. The time was coming as the day drew near when buyers and sellers would not rejoice or mourn because of the chaotic conditions. The wrath of God was to be upon both of them. The seller could not return his goods as long as he was alive. Everybody was going to suffer the consequences of those who had committed iniquities. No one would be able to maintain their lives.

Isaiah predicts the Babylonian captivity (Isa 39:5-39:8)

“Then Isaiah said to King Hezekiah.

‘Hear the word of Yahweh of hosts.

Days are coming

When all that is in your house,

As well as that which your ancestors

Have stored up

Until this day,

Shall be carried to Babylon.

Nothing shall be left.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Some of your own sons,

Who are born to you,

Shall be taken away.

They shall be eunuchs

In the palace of the king of Babylon.’

Then King Hezekiah said to Isaiah.

‘The word of Yahweh

That you have spoken is good.’

He thought.

‘There will be peace

There will be security

In my days’”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 20. The prophet Isaiah warned King Hezekiah that the day was coming when all these things would belong to the king of Babylon. Nothing will be left in Jerusalem. His sons would be eunuchs in the Babylonian palace. King Hezekiah assumed that Isaiah was talking about a time when there would be peace and security between these two countries, so that they would exchange gifts.

The king asks Haman for advice (Esth 6:4-6:10)

The king said.

‘Who is in the court?’

Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. So the king’s servants told him.

‘Haman is there, standing in the court.’

The king said.

‘Let him come in.’

So Haman came in. The king said to him.

‘What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?’

Haman said to himself.

‘Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?’

So Haman said to the king.

‘For the man whom the king wishes to honor,

Let royal robes be brought,

Which the king has worn,

Let him have a horse that the king has ridden.

Put a royal crown on its head.

Let the robes and the horse be handed over

To one of the king’s most noble officials.

Let him robe the man whom the king wishes to honor.

Let him conduct the man on horseback

Through the open square of the city.

Proclaiming before him.

‘Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.’

Then the king said to Haman.

‘Quickly.

Take the robes and the horse,

As you have said,

Do so to Mordecai who sits at the king’s gate.

Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.’”

In a very interesting turn of events, who should show up as the king was trying to figure out how to reward Mordecai, but his mortal enemy Haman? Haman had been planning to kill Mordecai that very same day as he had come early to the king to get permission to hang Mordecai. Instead, he will end up honoring Mordecai because he thought that he himself was the honoree. When the king asked him how to honor someone, he assumed that he was the one to be honored. Thus he laid out plans to have a royal robe and a royal horse. He even said that a royal official should accompany him. Never did he realize that he was to be the royal official who would accompany Mordecai. What a revolting development for Haman and a reversal of fortune for Mordecai.