The gift or the altar (Mt 23:19-23:19)

“You blind men!

Which is greater?

The gift

Or the altar

That makes

The gift sacred?”

 

τυφλοί, τί γὰρ μεῖζον, τὸ δῶρον ἢ τὸ θυσιαστήριον τὸ ἁγιάζον τὸ δῶρον;

 

Jesus, via Matthew, poses almost the same question as verse 17.  He called these Pharisees and the Scribes blind (τυφλοί), but not fools.  He wanted to know which was greater (τίς γὰρ μείζων ἐστίν)?  Was the gift by itself (τὸ δῶρον) holier than the altar that made the gift sacred (ἢ τὸ θυσιαστήριον τὸ ἁγιάζον τὸ δῶρον).  The gift became sacred or holy by being on the altar, much more than a plain gift not on the altar.  The altar was clearly greater than the gift that was made sacred by being on the altar.

 

 

The cures in the Temple (Mt 21:14-21:14)

“The blind

Came to him.

The lame

Came to him

In the Temple.

Jesus healed them.”

 

Καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ τυφλοὶ καὶ χωλοὶ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  He said that Jesus actually healed and cured (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς) the blind people (τυφλοὶ) and the lame people (καὶ χωλοὶ) in the Jerusalem Temple itself (ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ).  These people had come to him there (Καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ).  These actions with the cleansing of the Temple might have upset the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem.

Better blind than eternal fire (Mt 18:9-18:9)

“If your eye

Causes you

To sin

Or stumble,

Take it out!

Throw it away!

It is better for you

To enter life

With one eye

Than with two eyes

To be thrown into

The fire of hell.”

 

καὶ εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· καλόν σοί ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός.

 

This saying about it being better to be blind in one eye can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:47, word for word.  This warning is almost the same as the warning about the stumbling hand and foot.  Jesus then spoke about the problem of wandering eyes.  If your eye causes you to stumble or sin (καὶ εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζει σε), take it out, gouge it out, or pluck it out (ἔξελε αὐτὸν)!  Throw it away (καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ·)!  It would be better for you to enter life blind in one eye or one eyed (καλόν σοί ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν) than to have two eyes (ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς) but thrown into the eternal fire (ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός).  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block or snare was, get rid of it, even if it is your eye.  Notice that here they are not sent to the eternal fires as in the preceding verses, but to the fires of Gehenna “γέενναν.”  The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off with one eye and a whole body than being in these hell fires.

Healing the crowds of people (Mt 15:30-15:31)

“Great crowds

Came to him.

They brought with them

The lame,

The maimed,

The blind,

The mute,

And many others.

They put them

At his feet.

Jesus healed them.

Thus,

The crowd was amazed

When they saw

The mute speaking,

The maimed whole,

The lame walking,

And the blind seeing.

They praised

The God of Israel.”

 

καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἔχοντες μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν χωλούς, κυλλούς, τυφλούς, κωφούς, καὶ ἑτέρους πολλούς, καὶ ἔριψαν αὐτοὺς παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς·

ὥστε τὸν ὄχλον θαυμάσαι βλέποντας κωφοὺς λαλοῦντας κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς καὶ χωλοὺς περιπατοῦντας καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας· καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεὸν Ἰσραήλ.

 

This seems to be unique to Matthew, with his emphasis on the great crowds of people and mass healings.  In chapter 8:17, He had talked about these healing actions as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, but here this prophet is not mentioned.  As usual, great crowds came out to see Jesus (καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ).  They brought with them (ἔχοντες μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν) the lame (χωλούς), the maimed (κυλλούς), the blind (τυφλούς), the mute (κωφούς), and many other sick people (, καὶ ἑτέρους πολλούς).  They were all placed at the feet of Jesus (καὶ ἔριψαν αὐτοὺς παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ).  Then he healed them (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς), so that the crowd was amazed or marveled at what they saw (ὥστε τὸν ὄχλον θαυμάσαι βλέποντας).  The mute people were able to speak (κωφοὺς λαλοῦντας).  The maimed people were made sound or whole (κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς).  The lame people were able to walk (καὶ χωλοὺς περιπατοῦντας).  The blind people were able to see (καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας).  They all praised or honored the God of Israel (καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεὸν Ἰσραήλ), and not Jesus.

Blind guides (Mt 15:13-15:14)

“Jesus answered.

‘Every plant

That my heavenly Father

Has not planted

Will be rooted up.

Let them alone!

They are blind guides

Of the blind.

If a blind person

guides another blind person,

Both will fall

Into a pit.’”

 

δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Πᾶσα φυτεία ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν ὁ Πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος ἐκριζωθήσεται.

ἄφετε αὐτούς· τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηγοί τυφλῶν· τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται.

 

Something similar to this can be found in Luke, chapter 6:39, about the blind leading the blind.  Jesus responded (δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) to his disciples about the Pharisees.  He told them that every plant that was not planted by his heavenly Father would be rooted up (Πᾶσα φυτεία ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν ὁ Πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος ἐκριζωθήσεται.).  He told them to leave the Pharisees alone (ἄφετε αὐτούς).  They were blind guides of blind people (τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηγοί τυφλῶν).  It was as if one blind person was guiding or leading another blind person (τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ).  They would both fall into a pit (ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται), a common Old Testament prophetic theme about the bad times, when you would fall into an open pit.

The polluted food (Mal 1:7-1:8)

“Yahweh said.

‘By offering polluted food

Upon my altar.

You say.

‘How have we polluted it?’

‘By thinking

That Yahweh’s table

May be despised.

When you offer blind animals

In sacrifice,

Is that not wrong?

When you offer those

That are lame

Or sick,

Is that not wrong?

Try presenting that

To your governor!

Will he be pleased

With you?

Will he show you favor?’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh was upset at these priests.  They had offered up polluted food on the altar of Yahweh.  These priests wanted to know how they had polluted the food.  Yahweh responded that they had despised him by offering up blind, lame, and sick animals instead of healthy and sound animals.  They had done Yahweh wrong.  Would they present these kinds of wounded animals to their governor?  Would he be pleased with them?  Would he show them favors?  Thus, they have despised Yahweh by offering these kinds of wounded, unfit, or unclean animals.

The problem of Judah (Zech 12:4-12:5)

“On that day,

Says Yahweh.

‘I will strike every horse

With panic.

I will strike its rider

With madness.

But upon the house of Judah,

I will keep a watchful eye,

When I strike every horse

Of the people

With blindness.

Then the clan leaders of Judah

Shall say to themselves.

‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem

Have strength

Through Yahweh of hosts,

Their God.’”

Once again, Yahweh declared, via Zechariah, that he was going to strike panic among the horses and their riders, who would be struck with madness.  However, the exception would be the house of Judah, because Yahweh kept a watchful eye on them.  When many of the people would be struck blind, then the various clan leaders of Judah would realize that the people of Jerusalem had great strength through Yahweh, their God.

The final judgment for humans (Zeph 1:17-1:18)

“I will bring

Such distress

Upon the people

That they shall walk

Like the blind.

They have sinned

Against Yahweh.

Their blood

Shall be poured out

Like dust.

Their flesh

Shall be

Like dung.

Neither their silver,

Nor their gold,

Shall be able

To save them

On the day

Of Yahweh’s wrath.

In the fire

Of his passion,

The whole earth

Shall be consumed.

He will make

All the inhabitants

Of the earth

A full end,

A terrible end.”

Very clearly the end was coming.  There would be so much distress among humans that they would be walking around as if they were blind.  They had sinned against Yahweh, so that their blood would be poured out like dust, while their bodies would be like smelly dung.  Their silver and gold would not save them from Yahweh’s day of wrath, because Yahweh’s angry passion would consume the whole world, including all the people living on it.  The end times was near.

Blindness (Lam 4:17-4:17)

Ayin

“Our eyes failed.

We were forever

Watching vainly

For help.

We were

Watching eagerly

For a nation

That could not save.”

Despite the fact that the people of Jerusalem were watching in vain, their eyes failed them. They were looking for help, but none came. They eagerly watched for country after country to help them, but no one could save them. Either they were blind or other countries were blind to them. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Ayin in this acrostic poem.

The land in mourning (Jer 12:4-12:4)

“How long will

The land mourn?

How long will

The grass of every field wither?

Due to the wickedness of those

Who live in it,

The animals

Are swept away.

The birds

Are swept away.

Because people said.

‘He is blind to our ways.’”

Jeremiah wanted to know how long the land would mourn. How long would the grass wither in the fields? Due to the wickedness of these people, the animals and the birds of this land were to be swept away. These people thought that Yahweh was blind to their evil ways.