The second beatitude about mourning (Mt 5:4-5:4)

“Blessed are

Those who mourn!

They shall be comforted.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται.

 

Once again, Matthew and Luke are not in agreement.  Matthew wanted the mourners (οἱ πενθοῦντες) to be comforted (ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται), while Luke, chapter 6:21, talked about the hungry, that will be a later spiritual beatitude in Matthew, chapter 5:6.  These humble righteous ones who suffer now in their mourning will be comforted or strengthened.  Thus, they are the blessed or fortunate ones (μακάριοι).  For some reason the Bible of Jerusalem has this beatitude the 3rd instead of the 2rd beatitude.

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The Christian Old Testament

Interesting enough, there is a dispute about the books of the Hebrew Bible among various Christians.  The English Christian Protestant Reform Bible used the Hebrew Bible texts for its translation of the King James English translation of the Bible.  Later 20th century translations, especially the New Revised Standard Version also used these texts.  However, the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Bible relied on the inspired Greek Septuagint, the 2nd century BCE version of the Hebrew inspired Bible.  This was best represented by the 4th century CE Latin translation of the Vulgate by Jerome.  Various translations during the 20th century, especially the Bible of Jerusalem, have used the structure of the Vulgate.

The breakup (Hos 2:2-2:3)

“Plead with your mother!

Plead!

She is not my wife!

I am not her husband!

She should put away

Her whoring

From her face.

She should put away

Her adultery

From between her breasts.

Otherwise,

I will strip her naked.

I will expose her

As in the day

She was born.

I will make her

Like a wilderness.

I will turn her

Into a parched land.

I will kill her

With thirst.”

Now the prophet Hosea really tore into Gomer. He told the children that Gomer was not his wife and that he was not her husband. Gomer had to stop her whoring ways. She continued to commit adultery, although she bore 3 children. Hosea had a punishment for her. He was going to strip her naked, so that she would be like the day she was born. He was going to turn her into a wilderness or a parched land. He was going to kill her with thirst. I guess that there was no reconciliation here. The verse numbering system is not the same here for various bibles, since the Bible of Jerusalem has this at the end of the chapter.

The future of Israel and Judah (Hos 1:10-1:11)

“Yet the number

Of the people of Israel

Shall be

Like the sand of the sea,

Which can be neither measured

Nor numbered.

In the place

Where it was said

To them.

‘You are not my people.’

It shall be said to them.

‘Children of the living God.’

The people of Judah

With the people of Israel

Shall be gathered together.

They shall appoint

For themselves

One head.

They shall take possession

Of the land.

Great shall be

The day of Jezreel.”

For some reason, these two verses are not in the Bible of Jerusalem. However, they are in the Oxford Bible, so I will comment on them. There seems to be an abrupt change of tone. Instead of not being his people, suddenly Israel would be as numerous as the sands of the sea, a common theme. They would once again be known as the children of the living God. On top of that, they would once again join with Judah, having one leader, a theme that was prevalent during the captivity. Further, the idea that they should take possession of the land was a strong captivity idea. Once again, there will be a great day at Jezreel, after the doom and gloom that had preceded this comment.

The king’s new decree (Dan 4:1-4:1)

“King Nebuchadnezzar

To all people,

To all nations,

To all languages,

That live

Throughout the earth!

May you have

Abundant prosperity!”

Once again, King Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to all the people and all the nations of the world, as if he ruled the whole world. He also included various language groups on earth. He wished everyone abundant prosperity. He wanted everyone to be happy. This is actually part of chapter 3 as in the Bible of Jerusalem. However, I will follow the verse numbers of the Oxford Bible.

 

Azariah stands still to pray (Dan 3:1-3:2)

“They walked around

In the midst

Of the flames.

They were singing

Hymns to God.

They were blessing

The Lord.

Then Azariah stood still

In the fire.

He prayed aloud.”

Like the Book of Esther, this Book of Daniel has several sections that were not in the Hebrew text. Thus, they did not make it into the English King James Bible, and so became known as Apocrypha. This prayer of Azariah, one of the 3 men in the furnace, and then their joint prayer that follows, can be found in the Greek Septuagint, but not in the Hebrew text. The Bible of Jerusalem also includes it here. The New Oxford Standard lists it as “additions to Daniel, inserted between 3:23 and 3:24.” I have given it its own separate verse numbers as if it were complete in itself. The 3 men in the furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, walked around in the middle of the hot flames. They were singing hymns and blessing God, the Lord. Then Azariah, who was called Abednego, stood still. He uttered his prayer out loud. The rest of this section is his beautiful prayer.

Historical Introduction (Bar 6:1-6:1)

“A copy of a letter

That Jeremiah sent

To those

Who were to be taken

To Babylon

As exiles

By the king of the Babylonians.

This was

To give them

The message

That God

Had commanded him.”

This claims to be a letter written by Jeremiah as the people were about to be taken into exile. Was this the first exile in 597 BCE or the second exile in 587 BCE? This letter is probably around the second exile. How does this relate to the letter of Jeremiah in chapter 29 of his work? It has nothing to do with the letter in Jeremiah. It probably has nothing to do with Jeremiah at all, since it has strong traces of the later Hellenistic period. Finally, why is it here as chapter 6 at the end of the Book of Baruch? It is here because that was the place of this work in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate translation. This is a so-called copy of a letter that Jeremiah sent to those who were to be taken to Babylon as exiles. Jeremiah had been friendly to the Babylonians, so that does not seem to be a stretch.   This was a message that God commanded Jeremiah to give to exiles as they departed from Jerusalem. The verse numbering is one verse different in the Bible of Jerusalem because this was considered an introduction and not verse 1. This continues throughout this chapter.