Eating on the Sabbath (Mt 12:1-12:1)

“At that time,

Jesus went through

The grain fields,

On the sabbath.

His disciples

Were hungry.

They began to pluck

Heads of grain

To eat them.”

 

Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς σάββασιν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων· οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπείνασαν καὶ ἤρξαντο τίλλειν στάχυας καὶ ἐσθίειν.

 

Matthew has Jesus with his disciples on the Sabbath day walking in a grain field.  This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:23, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  It is also the same as Luke, chapter 6:1.  Once again there is a transition statement of Matthew, “At that time” (Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ).  Jesus was traveling through the grain fields on the Sabbath (ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς σάββασιν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων).  This is the only use of the word “σπορίμων” in all the biblical literature.  All three synoptics use this word that meant a sown field or a grain field.  His disciples were hungry (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπείνασαν).  They began to pluck the heads of the grain in the field (καὶ ἤρξαντο τίλλειν στάχυας).  Once again, this is a unique word “τίλλειν.” “plucking” that only appears in the New Testament literature in this story of the three synoptics.  They then ate these grain heads (καὶ ἐσθίειν).  This sets up the problem of plucking grain on the Sabbath.

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The sleeping girl (Mt 9:23-9:24)

“When Jesus came

To the leader’s house,

He saw the flute players.

The crowd

Was making a commotion.

He said.

‘Go away!

The girl is not dead.

But she is sleeping.’

They laughed at him.”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ ἄρχοντος καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς αὐλητὰς καὶ τὸν ὄχλον θορυβούμενον

ἔλεγεν· Ἀναχωρεῖτε· οὐ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν τὸ κοράσιον ἀλλὰ καθεύδει. καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ.

 

This episode of the sleeping girl is similar to what can be found in Mark, chapter 5:38-39, and Luke, chapter 8:51-52.  Jesus then arrived at this leader’s house (καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ ἄρχοντος).  Jesus saw the mourning flute players (καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς αὐλητὰς).  Once again, this is the only time that this word for flute players (αὐλητὰς) is found in the biblical literature.  The crowd was agitated, making a big commotion (καὶ τὸν ὄχλον θορυβούμενον).  He told them to go away (ἔλεγεν·Ἀναχωρεῖτε) since the girl was not dead (οὐ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν τὸ κοράσιον), but only sleeping (ἀλλὰ καθεύδει).  However, they laughed at him or ridiculed him (καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ).  This will not be the only time that people ridicule Jesus and his disciples.

The woman with the hemorrhage (Mt 9:20-9:21)

“A woman,

Who had suffered

From hemorrhages

For twelve years,

Came up behind him.

She touched

The fringe

Of his cloak.

She said to herself.

‘If I only touch

His cloak,

I will be made well.’”

 

Καὶ ἰδοὺ γυνὴ αἱμορροοῦσα δώδεκα ἔτη προσελθοῦσα ὄπισθεν ἥψατο τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ·

ἔλεγεν γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτῇ Ἐὰν μόνον ἅψωμαι τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ σωθήσομαι.

 

This episode about the woman with hemorrhages interrupts the story about the leader and his dead daughter.  However, it can be found in Mark, chapter 5:25-29, and Luke, chapter 8:43-44, except that Mark and Luke have a more elaborate story, about her background.  Interesting enough, the word that Matthew uses for hemorrhages (αἱμορροοῦσα) is only found here, but nowhere else in the biblical literature.  Mark and Luke said that she had flowing blood.  All agree that she had been suffering for 12 years with this bleeding (Καὶ ἰδοὺ γυνὴ αἱμορροοῦσα δώδεκα ἔτη).  She came up behind Jesus (προσελθοῦσα ὄπισθεν).  She wanted to touch the fringe or the tassel edge of his cloak (ἥψατο τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ).  These fringes (κρασπέδου) or bottom tassels often reminded people about the 10 commandments.  She was thinking to herself (ἔλεγεν γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτῇ), that if she only touched his cloak or garment (Ἐὰν μόνον ἅψωμαι τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ), she would be healed or cured (σωθήσομαι).

Short prayers (Mt 6:7-6:8)

“When you are praying,

Do not heap up empty phrases,

As the gentiles do.

They think

That they will be heard

Because of their many words.

Do not be like them!

Your Father knows

What you need

Before you ask him.”

 

Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί· δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.

μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that serves as the introduction to the “Our Father” prayer.  When the followers of Jesus were praying (Προσευχόμενοι δὲ), they should not babble or use vain empty words (μὴ βατταλογήσητε).  Matthew used this Greek word “βατταλογήσητε” that only appears here in all the biblical literature.  This was a kind of long babbling stammering rote type of prayer that some gentiles used (ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί).  Thus, once again Matthew indicated that these gentles were not part of the Jesus followers.  These long-winded gentile non-Jewish people thought that they had to use a lot of words to be heard (δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται).  The Jesus followers should not be the same or like them (μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς), since their divine Father (οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν) knew what they needed before they even asked (ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν).

Literary forms of the Bible

There were different literary forms that came under the various cultural human influences.  Literary criticism means the various applications that people have used to investigate any kind of literature.  The study of the use of language and style to obtain meaning has helped to reestablish the unity, the beauty, the integrity, the quality, and the meaning and significance of biblical literature.  Many subcategories of literary criticism also exist.  An examination of the use of language and literary style shows how these human authors established their meanings.  The formal scientific study of human language involves the application of some aspects of modern linguistics.  Structuralism is an attempt to discover underlying deep patterns of universal meaning and significance.

Title (Zeph 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

That came to Zephaniah,

Son of Cushi,

Son of Gedaliah,

Son of Amariah,

Son of Hezekiah,

In the days

Of King Josiah,

Son of Amon,

Of Judah.”

As with many other prophets, the word of Yahweh came to Zephaniah.  However, there is a long description of his lineage.  He was the son of a Cushi that could mean a Cushite, an Ethiopian, or a dark-skinned person.  There was a Gedaliah who was a governor of Israel after the exile, but the setting is earlier here.  There 9 different people with the name of Amariah mentioned in the biblical literature.  This one could have been the son of King Hezekiah of Judah who ruled from 716-687 BCE.  That is quite possible since Zephaniah was a prophet during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) who was the son of King Amon (642-640 BCE).  Thus, Zephaniah may have been a prophet with royal blood.

Yahweh speaks to Joel (Joel 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Joel,

The son of Pethuel.”

Like most prophets, the word of God came to Joel. The problem of dating when Joel was active as a prophet is difficult. Joel does not have a unique name, since it was a quite common name. He probably lived in Judah during the post-exilic Persian rule. He may have been a Temple prophet in the Second Temple times. Thus, putting him between 400-350 BCE does not seem out of place. His father was Pethuel, but this is the only time that his name appears in the biblical literature.