The graves (Lk 11:44-11:44)

“Woe to you!

You are

Like unmarked graves.

People walk

Over them

Without realizing it.”

 

οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, ὅτι ἐστὲ ὡς τὰ μνημεῖα τὰ ἄδηλα, καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ περιπατοῦντες ἐπάνω οὐκ οἴδασιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus continued to pick on his dinner guests, the Pharisees.  Jesus cursed these Pharisees without naming them.  He said woe to them (οὐαὶ ὑμῖν) because they were like unmarked graves (ὅτι ἐστὲ ὡς τὰ μνημεῖα τὰ ἄδηλα) that people or men would walk over without realizing it (καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ περιπατοῦντες ἐπάνω οὐκ οἴδασιν).  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 23:27, where Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes.  There was no doubt that Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees because of their false hearts.  They were like whitewashed tombs, that looked outwardly beautiful.  However, the inside of these unmarked tombs was full of the bones of dead people and other kinds of filth or impure things.  Thus, the Pharisees appear to look righteous on the outside to others.  However, on the inside, in their hearts, they were full of hypocrisy, iniquity, and lawlessness.  Matthew went into more detail than Luke did here, sitting with them at dinner.  Have you ever complained directly to people at a dinner party?

Whitewashed tombs (Mt 23:27-23:28)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You are like

Whitewashed tombs,

Which outwardly

Look beautiful.

But inside,

They are full

Of the bones

Of the dead

With all kinds of filth.

Thus,

You also on the outside

Look righteous

To others.

However,

Inside you

Are full of hypocrisy

And iniquity.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι παρομοιάζετε τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις, οἵτινες ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνονται ὡραῖοι, ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ὀστέων νεκρῶν καὶ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας.

οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνεσθε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δίκαιοι, ἔσωθεν δέ ἐστε μεστοὶ ὑποκρίσεως καὶ ἀνομίας.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:44.  Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, 15 and 25.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  This time it was a continuation against the false hearts of the Pharisees.  They were like whitewashed tombs (ὅτι παρομοιάζετε τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις), that looked outwardly beautiful (οἵτινες ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνονται ὡραῖοι).  However, the inside of these unmarked tombs was full of the bones of dead people and other kinds of filth or impure things (ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ὀστέων νεκρῶν καὶ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας).  Thus, the Pharisees appear to look righteous on the outside to others (οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνεσθε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δίκαιοι).  However, on the inside of them, in their hearts, they are full of hypocrisy and iniquity or lawlessness (ἔσωθεν δέ ἐστε μεστοὶ ὑποκρίσεως καὶ ἀνομίας).

Daniel’s accusers were put in the lion’s den (Dan 6:24-6:24)

“The king

Gave a command.

Those men,

Who had accused Daniel,

Were brought to him.

He threw them

Into the den of lions.

He not only threw them,

But their children,

With their wives.

Before they reached

The bottom

Of the den,

The lions

Overpowered them.

The lions broke

All their bones

Into pieces.”

In a reversal of fortunes, which is common among the biblical writings, like in Esther, chapter 6, the conspirators and their families were put into the lion’s den. Before they hit the bottom of the den, the lions had overpowered them, their children, and their wives. All their bones were broken into pieces. The moral of the story is not to be a conspirator.

The skin and flesh of the bones (Ezek 37:8-37:8)

“I looked!

There were sinews

On the dry bones.

Flesh had come

Upon them.

Skin

Had covered them.

But there was

No spirit

In them.”

As Ezekiel looked on, the moving dry bones picked up some sinew or muscle, flesh, and skin. However, they did not have the spirit yet, just bones with some fleshy muscled skin.

They did not obey (Bar 2:24-2:26)

“But we did not obey

Your voice.

We did not serve

The king of Babylon.

You have carried out

Your threats

That you spoke

By your servants,

The prophets.

The bones of our kings,

The bones of our ancestors

Would be brought out

Of their resting place.

Indeed

They have been

Thrown out

To the heat of day

And the frost of night.

They perished

In great misery,

By famine,

By sword,

By pestilence.

You have made

The house

That is called

By your name

As it is today,

Because of the wickedness

Of the house of Israel,

Of the house of Judah.”

However, they did not obey the voice of the Lord to serve the Babylonian king. Then God carried out the threats that he spoken through his prophetic servants. Thus the bones of their kings and their ancestors were brought out from their graves. They were exposed to the elements of the weather, the heat of day and the frost at night. Meanwhile, they all perished in great misery by either of the 3 famous ways of dying in Jeremiah, the famine, the sword, or the pestilence.  The Temple or the house of God was torn down because of the wickedness in the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

Good conduct (Isa 58:9-58:12)

“If you remove the yoke

From among you,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you remove the pointing of the finger,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you stop speaking of evil,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you offer your food to the hungry,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

Your gloom will be

Like the noonday.

Yahweh will guide you continually.

He will satisfy your needs in parched places.

He will make your bones strong.

You shall be

Like a watered garden,

Like a spring of water,

Whose waters do not fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt.

You shall raise up

The foundations of many generations.

You shall be called

The repairer of the breach,

The restorer of streets to live in.”

Third Isaiah points out how the Israelites could become the light in the darkness. They had to remove the yoke from those around them. They had to stop pointing their fingers in a derisive contemptuous way. They had to stop speaking evil. Instead they should offer their food to the hungry and help the afflicted. Gloom could be turned to a noonday sun. Yahweh would guide them continually as their needs would be satisfied. Their bones would grow strong. They would become like watered gardens or unfailing spring waters. They were to rebuild the ancient ruins, thus becoming the foundation for many generations to come. They will be known as those who repaired the streets after the Exile in Jerusalem.

Planting seeds (Eccl 11:4-11:6)

“Whoever observes the wind

Will not sow.

Whoever regards the clouds

Will not reap.

Just as you do not know

How the breath comes to the bones

In the mother’s womb,

So you do not know

The work of God

Who makes everything.

In the morning,

Sow your seed.

At evening,

Do not let your hand be idle.

You do not know

Which will prosper,

This or that,

Whether both alike will be good.”

If you wait for the perfect wind or the perfect clouds, you will never sow or reap. You have no idea how breath comes to bones in a mother’s womb. So too you have no idea how crops grow. Qoheleth reminds us that God made everything. In the morning, you sow your seeds, but you should not be idle in the evening. You are not sure which seeds will prosper, this one, that one, or both, only God knows.