The lambs among the wolves (Lk 10:3-10:3)

“Go your way!

See!

I am sending you out

As lambs

Into the midst

Of wolves.”

 

ὑπάγετε· ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς ἄρνας ἐν μέσῳ λύκων.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that they were to go on their way (ὑπάγετε).  He was going to send them out (ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς) as lambs (ὡς ἄρνας) in the middle of wolves (ἐν μέσῳ λύκων).  There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 10:16, perhaps indicating a Q source.  This was part of the remarks that Jesus gave as the admonitions to his 12 apostles.  Matthew indicated that Jesus was going to send them out like sheep in the middle of wolves.  Luke did not mention as Matthew had that Jesus told them that they had to be as wise, intelligent, shrewd, or sensible as serpents.  At the same time, they had to be as innocent, simple, unsophisticated, sincere, or blameless, as doves.  This was a tall order.  Here there was a simple statement without any explanation.  Are you more like a lamb or a wolf?

Wise simple sheep (Mt 10:16-10:16)

“See!

I am sending you out

As sheep

Into the midst of wolves.

So be wise

As serpents!

Be innocent

As doves.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων· γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί.

 

There is something similar in Luke, 10:3, perhaps indicating a Q source.  This is another admonition to his apostles.  Jesus was going to send them out (Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς) like sheep in the middle of wolves (ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων).  Thus, they had to be as wise, intelligent, shrewd, or sensible as serpents (γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις).  They had to be as innocent, simple, unsophisticated, sincere, or blameless, as doves (καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί).  This was a tall order with this dichotomous speech.

Daniel responds to the king (Dan 6:21-6:22)

“Then Daniel said

To the king.

‘O king!

Live forever!

My God

Sent his angel.

He shut

The lions’ mouths.

Thus,

They would not hurt me,

Because I was found blameless

Before him.

Also,

I was found blameless

Before you,

O king!

I have done no wrong.’”

Daniel responded to the king with the familiar salutation that the king was to live forever. He explained to the king that God’s angel had come to him and shut the mouths of these lions. Thus, they were unable to hurt him. He was found blameless before God, just as he was blameless before the king. He wanted the king to know that he had not done anything wrong.

The blessed rich person (Sir 31:8-31:11)

“Blessed is the rich person

Who is found blameless!

He does not go after gold.

Who is he?

We may praise him.

He has done wonders

Among his people.

Who has been tested by it?

Who has been found perfect?

Let it be for him

A ground for boasting.

Who has had the power

To transgress?

Yet he did not transgress.

Who has the power

To do evil?

Yet he did not do it.

His prosperity will be established.

The assembly will proclaim

His acts of charity.”

A rich person can be blessed, if he is if found blameless by not going after gold. Who is this person? Can we find him, so that we can praise him? He has done wonders among his people. He was tested and found perfect, so that now he can boast. He had the power to commit sins, but he did not. He had the power to do evil, but he did not. His prosperity will be established. The assembly will proclaim his acts of charity. Thus Sirach has found the good rich person.

The plague on the righteous (Wis 18:20-18:25)

“The experience of death

Touched also the righteous.

A plague came upon the multitude

In the desert.

But the wrath did not long continue.

A blameless man was quick

To act as their champion.

He brought forward the shield of his ministry.

He brought forth prayer.

He brought forward propitiation by incense.

He withstood the anger.

He put an end to the disaster.

He showed that he was your servant.

He conquered the wrath

Not by strength of body,

Not by force of arms,

But by his word

He subdued the avenger.

He appealed to the oaths given to our ancestors.

He appealed to the covenants given to our ancestors.

When the dead had already fallen on one another in heaps,

He intervened.

He held back the wrath.

He cut off its way to the living.

On his long robe

The whole world was depicted.

The glories of the ancestors

Were engraved on the four rows of stones.

Your majesty was on the diadem upon his head.

The destroyer yielded to these.

The destroyer feared these.

Merely to test the wrath was enough.”

This section takes part of the Exodus story in chapters 32 and the Numbers presentation in chapter 17 and combines them into one episode. In other words, the righteous (δικαίων) were not free from the wrath of God. A plague came upon them in the desert (ἐν ἐρήμῳ) that nearly killed 15,000 of them because the Israelites had rebelled against Moses and Aaron. However, Moses instructed Aaron to make reparation by prayer (προσευχὴν) and incense. The blameless man was Aaron, and not Moses, but there is no indication of his explicit name here since in the Exodus story Aaron had rebelled also. This blameless man subdued the avenger by his prayerful sacrificial actions. He remembered the oaths and covenants that his ancestors had made. The use of the robe is definitely the Levitical robe of Aaron from Exodus, chapter 28. His lovely robe had 4 rows of stones. He also had a diadem on his head (διαδήματος κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ). Obviously, this is from the time of the settled Israelites, but it was enough to scare off this destroyer. The Israelites learned from this episode.

Moses (Wis 10:15-10:16)

“A holy people,

A blameless race,

Wisdom delivered

From a nation of oppressors.

She entered the soul

Of a servant of the Lord.

He withstood dread kings

With wonders and signs.”

Based on the stories in Exodus, chapters 2-12, this abbreviated history of the Israelites turns to Moses, who is called a servant of the Lord, not just a righteous man. Of course, wisdom was the one who delivered this holy, blameless (ἄμεμπτον) race or seed (σπέρμα) from its oppressors. She entered the soul (ψυχὴν) of this brave servant of the Lord (θεράποντος Κυρίου) who opposed the dreaded kings, while producing signs and wonders in Egypt.

Tower of Babel and Abraham (Wis 10:5-10:5)

“Wisdom also,

When the nations in wicked agreement

Had been put to confusion,

Recognized the righteous man.

She preserved him

Blameless before God.

She kept him strong

In the face of his compassion

For his child.”

Here there seems to be a link with the Tower of Babel and Abraham. Once again in this abridgment of Genesis, there is a leap from chapter 11 about the Tower of Babel and Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac in chapter 22. Obviously, we then have this abbreviated history of mankind that jumps from Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, to Noah and the flood, without explicitly mentioning their names. Now the jump is from the Tower of Babel to Abraham. Here it is wisdom and not God who caused the confusion as the men were building the high tower. She also recognized and preserved Abraham as the strong righteous man who was blameless before God (ἄμεμπτον Θεῷ). Just as the idea of God dominates over wisdom, she, wisdom, is the one who had compassion for the child (τέκνου) of Abraham, Isaac.