Temple curtain torn in two (Mk 15:38-15:38)

“The curtain

Of the temple

Was torn

In two,

From top

To bottom.”

 

Καὶ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ ἐσχίσθη εἰς δύο ἀπ’ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω.

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 27:51, about the Temple curtain being torn in two, except that there is no mention of an earthquake here in Mark.  There was no mention of the Temple curtain tearing or an earthquake in Luke, chapter 23, or John, chapter 19.  Mark said that the curtain of the Temple (Καὶ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ) or the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the other parts of the Temple was torn in two (ἐσχίσθη εἰς δύο), from the top to the bottom (ἀπ’ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω).  Perhaps this indicated a prediction about the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

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What the Pharisees wear (Mt 23:5-23:5)

“The Pharisees

And Scribes

Do all their deeds

To be seen by other men.

They make

Their phylacteries broad.

Their fringes

Are long.”

 

πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα,

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes did all their deeds to be seen by other men (πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  They broadened their phylacteries (πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν) and enlarged their long fringes or tassels (καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα) on their clothes.  Thus, they had distinctive garments that they wore.  These phylacteries were leather boxes that contained scriptural passages.  They would wear them on their forearms or head as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:9-16.  and Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-9, that was closely tied to the “Shema.”  They were to write these biblical sayings of the law on their hands and forehead.  On the other hand, the fringes or tassels on the bottom of their clothing was based on Numbers, chapter 15:37-41.  They made the tassels on the four corners of their garments, with a blue chord on the fringe of each corner.  This was to remember all the commandments of Yahweh, a nice little reminder about their obligations.  Ever today, some Jewish groups wear these tassels called the tzitzit.  The same command about tassels can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 22:12.  Apparently, the Pharisees may have been the only ones wearing these larger tassels and large prayer boxes.

The punishment for the idol worshippers (Am 9:2-9:4)

“Though they dig

Into Sheol,

From there,

Shall my hand take them.

Though they climb up

To heaven,

From there,

I will bring them down.

Though they hide themselves

On the top of Carmel,

From there,

I will search out.

I will take them.

Though they hide

From my sight

At the bottom of the sea,

From there,

I will command

The sea serpent.

It shall bite them.

Though they go into captivity,

In front of their enemies,

From there,

I will command the sword.

It shall kill them.

I will fix my eyes

Upon them,

For harm,

Not for good.”

The punishment for these northern idol worshippers would be severe.  They might try to hide in Sheol, the afterlife shadowy existence, but Yahweh would find them.  If they tried to get to heaven, he would take them out of there.  If they tried to hide on Mount Carmel, Yahweh would still find them.  If they went to the bottom of the sea, a sea monster would get them.  Even if they went into captivity, their captives would kill them with the sword.  No matter what, Yahweh was going to keep his eyes on them, so that nothing good would happen to them.  Quite the opposite, something harmful would happen to them.

The prayer from the pit (Lam 3:55-3:57)

Qoph

“I called

On your name!

O Yahweh!

From the depths

Of the pit!

You heard my plea!

‘Do not close

Your ear

To my cry

For help!

But give me relief!’

You came near

When I called

On you.

You said.

‘Do not fear!’”

This personalized lament continues with a prayer from the bottom of the pit. This author called out to Yahweh. Yahweh then heard his plea as he did not close his ears. He responded to his cry for relief as he came near to him. Yahweh told him not to fear. There may be a happy ending after all this lamentation. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Qoph in this acrostic poem.

Yahweh controls the heavens (Ps 18:9-18:15)

“He bowed the heavens.

He came down.

Thick darkness was under his feet.

He rode on a cherub.

He flew in the air.

He came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.

He made darkness his covering around him.

His canopy was thick clouds

Dark with water.

Out of the brightness before him

There broke through his clouds

Hailstones and coals of fire.

Yahweh also thundered in the heavens.

The Most High uttered his voice.

He sent out his arrows.

He scattered them.

He flashed forth lightning.

He routed them.

Then the channels of the sea were seen.

The foundations of the world were laid bare.

At your rebuke!

Yahweh!

At the blast of the breath of your nostrils!”

This psalm talks about Yahweh and his control of the heavens just like in 2 Samuel, chapter 22. Yahweh came out of the clouds with darkness beneath him. He came down from heaven riding in the sky on an angelic cherub on the wings of the wind. He, of course, was the source of the thunder and the lightning. His voice was like thunder as he sent lightening to chase his enemies. The seas shook and the foundations of earth trembled from the blast of breath from his nose.  Yahweh had laid the foundations of the earth at the bottom of the sea. His nose had a big effect as a blast of his breath came upon the earth. Yahweh was directly interfering with the earth to help David through the use of thunder and lightning.

Yahweh questions Job about darkness (Job 38:16-38:18)

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea?

Have you walked in the recesses of the deep?

Have the gates of death been revealed to you?

Have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?

Declare!

Do you know all this?”

The depths of the seas were considered dark. Some were not sure that there was a bottom to the sea. Did Job know anything about the gates to death? Did he know anything about how wide or deep the earth was? If Job did not know this, he should.