They tie up heavy burdens (Mt 23:4-23:4)

“The Pharisees

And the Scribes

Tie up heavy burdens,

Hard to bear.

They lay them

On the shoulders of others.

But they themselves

Are unwilling to lift a finger

To move them.”

 

δεσμεύουσιν δὲ φορτία βαρέα καὶ ἐπιτιθέασιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὤμους τῶν ἀνθρώπων, αὐτοὶ δὲ τῷ δακτύλῳ αὐτῶν οὐ θέλουσιν κινῆσαι αὐτά.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  However, there is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:46, but there Jesus was talking about a lawyer, who may have been a Pharisaic lawyer of the Law of Moses, who would not help others.  Jesus said that these Pharisees and the Scribes tied up heavy burdens (δεσμεύουσιν δὲ φορτία βαρέα) on the people that were hard or oppressive to bear.  They put these burdens on the shoulders of other men (καὶ ἐπιτιθέασιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὤμους τῶν ἀνθρώπων), but they themselves were unwilling to lift a finger to help them remove these burdens (αὐτοὶ δὲ τῷ δακτύλῳ αὐτῶν οὐ θέλουσιν κινῆσαι αὐτά).  These heavy burdens of the Torah may have been their multiple perplexing oral interpretations of the law rather than the law itself that was usually considered a blessing.

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Jesus give thanks and distributes the bread (Mt 15:35-15:36)

“Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took the seven loaves

And the fish.

He gave thanks.

He broke them.

He gave them

To the disciples.

Then the disciples

Gave them

To the crowds.”

 

καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν

ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

 

Mark, chapter 8:6-7, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving blessing and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground, instead of earlier on the grass (καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).  This was going to be like a large picnic.  He took the seven loaves and the fish (ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας).  He gave thanks or eucharized them (καὶ εὐχαριστήσας) and broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to the disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς).  Then the disciples gave them to the crowds (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις).  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 14:19.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  The process is pretty much the same.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.

The extreme conditions bless God (Dan 3:49-3:51)

“Bless the Lord!

Ice!

Cold!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Frosts!

Snows!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Lightning!

Clouds!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!” 

This hymn continued with a blessing of the Lord from the ice, the cold, the frosts, the snows, the lightning, and the clouds. God controlled them, so that they should praise and exalt him forever.

The three companions pray together (Dan 3:28-3:28)

“Then the three,

With one voice,

Praised,

Glorified,

Blessed God

In the furnace.”

After this brief description about the events in the furnace, this prayer then continued with all 3 companions together, not just Azariah. All 3 of them, Azariah, called Abednego, Shadrach who was Hananiah, and Meshach, originally Mishael, prayed together in the furnace, blessing, praising, and glorifying God.

Commentary on the burden of Yahweh (Jer 23:34-23:38)

“As for the prophet,

The priest,

Or one of the people

Who say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’

I will punish them.

I will punish their households.

Thus shall you say,

To one another,

Among yourselves.

‘What has Yahweh answered?

‘What has Yahweh spoken?’

But ‘the burden of Yahweh’

You shall mention no more.

The burden is

Everyone’s own word.

Thus you pervert

The words of the living God.

Yahweh of hosts!

Our God!

Thus you shall ask the prophet.

‘What has Yahweh answered you?’

‘What has Yahweh spoken?’

But if you say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Because you have said

These words,

‘The burden of Yahweh,

When I sent to you,

Saying,

‘You shall not say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’”

This commentary on the “burden of Yahweh” seems to be a later addition trying to explain why you should never say “The burden of Yahweh.” A burden is something that you bare. Perhaps it is the heavy burden that the prophet Jeremiah’s words brought to the people. Yahweh was going to punish people and their households who said that the word of Yahweh was a burden. Rather, it seems like it should be a blessing. The prophet, the priest, or the people all should never mention the “burden of Yahweh.” They should say that Yahweh has spoken or answered them. He has not given them a burden, since this would be a perversion of the word of God. Simply put, stop using the term burden when speaking about God and his words.

Jeremiah curses the day he was born (Jer 20:14-20:18)

“Cursed be the day

On which I was born!

The day

When my mother bore me,

Let it not be blessed!

Cursed be the man

Who brought the news to my father!

‘A child is born to you,

A son.’

This made him very glad.

Let that man be

Like the cities

That Yahweh overthrew without pity!

Let him hear a cry in the morning!

Let him hear an alarm at noon!

Because he did not kill me

In the womb.

Thus my mother would have been

My grave.

Her womb would be forever great.

Why did I come forth

From the womb?

To see toil?

To see sorrow?

Why do I spend my days in shame?”

It is an unusual idea to curse one’s own existence. The only comparable thought would have been in Job, chapter 3, where he cursed the day he was conceived and the day he was born. This is a lament about the personal problems in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He wanted the day of his birth not to be a celebration or blessing, but a cursed day. He even wanted the man who told his father about the birth of his son to be cursed also. Jeremiah wanted that man to be like Yahweh’s destroyed cities. He wanted him to hear cries in the morning and at noon. They should have killed him in the womb so that his mother’s womb would have been his grave. This is an interesting thought for many anti-abortionists. Jeremiah wondered why he had come forth from the womb only to have a life of toils and sorrow, filled with shame. This is a very depressing idea, much like the poor depressed Job.

Trust in the Lord (Sir 11:20-11:22)

“Stand by your agreement!

Attend to it! Grow old in your work! Do not wonder

At the works of a sinner! Trust in the Lord!

Keep at your job!

It is easy in the sight of the Lord

To suddenly make

The poor become rich,

In an instant.

The blessing of the Lord

Is the reward of the pious.

Quickly God causes his blessings to flourish.”

You should trust in the Lord. Keep and attend to your agreements. Grow old at your work. Stay at your job. Do not wonder about the works of sinners. The Lord can make a poor man rich instantaneously. The blessing of the Lord is the reward for the pious ones. He can make his blessings flourish.