Blessed is the womb (Lk 11:27-11:27)

“While Jesus

Was speaking,

A woman

In the crowd

Raised her voice.

She said to Jesus.

‘Blessed is the womb

That bore you

And the breasts

That nursed you!”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ λέγειν αὐτὸν ταῦτα ἐπάρασά τις φωνὴν γυνὴ ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου εἶπεν αὐτῷ Μακαρία ἡ κοιλία ἡ βαστάσασά σε καὶ μαστοὶ οὓς ἐθήλασας.

 

Luke alone has this incident about the woman shouting out in a crowd.  Luke said that while Jesus was speaking (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ λέγειν αὐτὸν ταῦτα), a woman in the crowd (γυνὴ ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου) raised her voice (ἐπάρασά τις φωνὴν).  She said to Jesus (εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that blessed (Μακαρία) was the womb that bore him (ἡ κοιλία ἡ βαστάσασά σε) and the breasts that nursed him (καὶ μαστοὶ οὓς ἐθήλασας).  This woman in the crowd wanted to praise the mother of Jesus because she had borne and nursed Jesus.  Jesus’ mother should be blessed, happy or fortunate (Μακαρία), which she was.  Luke seemed to pay more attention to women that the other gospel writers.   Do you think that women are undervalued?

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Little sister (Song 8:8-8:10)

Female lover

“We have a little sister.

She has no breasts.

What shall we do for our sister?

What shall we do

On the day when she is spoken for?

If she is a wall,

We will build

Upon her

A battlement of silver.

But if she is a door,

We will enclose her

With boards of cedar.

I was a wall,

My breasts were like towers.

Then I was in his eyes

As one who brings peace.”

Somehow, there is a problem about a little sister. Probably she was not yet ready for marriage since she had no breasts. She was not spoken for or engaged. What were they to do? They were going to protect her. She either was a wall or a door. If she was a wall, they would add a silver fortification. If she was a door, they would enclose her with cedar boards. This female lover says that she was a wall with large breasts that had brought peace to everyone. It could also be future child, as interpretations abound.

Another description of the female lover (Song 7:1-7:5)

Male lover

“How graceful are your feet in sandals.

O queenly maiden!

Your rounded thighs are like jewels.

They are the work of a master hand.

Your navel is a rounded bowl

That never lacks mixed wine.

Your belly is a heap of wheat,

Encircled with lilies.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,

Twins of a gazelle.

Your neck is like an ivory tower.

Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,

By the gate of Bath-rabbim.

Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,

Overlooking Damascus.

Your head crowns you like Carmel.

Your flowing locks are like purple.

A king is held captive in the tresses.”

This description of the female lover is not exactly the same as in chapters 4 and 6. Here she has graceful feet in her sandals with rounded thighs like jewels. Her navel was like a round bowl with mixed wines. Her belly was like a heap of wheat with lilies. Her two breasts were like fawns or gazelles. He seemed to know a lot about her body. Her neck was like an ivory tower. Her eyes were like the pools in Heshbon that was on the east side of the Jordan River. Heshbon had been the chief city of King Sidon of the Amorites as found in Numbers, chapter 21. These pools must have been famous as it became Israelite territory. This town also became known as Bath-rabbim. Her nose was like a high tower of Lebanon overlooking Damascus. I am not sure how this is a compliment. Her head was like Mount Carmel. Her locks were purple here and not like a flock of goats as earlier described. Nevertheless, the king was held captive by them anyway.

The wife of your youth (Prov 5:18-5:23)

“Rejoice in the wife of your youth!

She is a lovely deer.

She is a graceful doe.

May her breasts satisfy you at all times!

May you be intoxicated always by her love!

Why should you be intoxicated with another woman?

My son!

Why do you embrace the bosom of an adulterous woman?

Human ways are under the eyes of Yahweh.

He examines all their paths.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare them.

They are caught in the toils of their sin.

They die for lack of discipline.

Because of their great folly they are lost.”

Now this chapter ends with what you should be doing. You should rejoice with the wife of your youth, as there may have been other wives. However, the ideal is the young wife for life. There is a description of her. She is like a lovely deer or a graceful doe. Her breasts satisfy her husband at all times. Her love is intoxicating. So then he asks why you would seek another intoxicating woman if you have one at home. Then the reprimands come. He reminds his sons that God sees everything. He examines all paths. The wicked usually ensnare themselves as they are caught in the toils of sin. They die because of a lack of discipline. There folly leads to a great loss.

The distress of the women of Jerusalem (2 Macc 3:18-3:23)

“People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into dishonor. Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the young women who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of the windows. Holding up their hands to heaven, they all made supplication. There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of the high priest in his great anguish. While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.”

Not only the priests were upset, the whole town was in turmoil. They gathered in small crowds as they worried about the dishonor to their holy Temple. The women wore sackcloth under their breasts. This was the common clothing of those in mourning. Here it seems only the women were wearing these goat hair robes. They young unmarried women were kept indoors. However, they were trying to find out what was going on, as they ran to the gates and walls, and peeked out the windows. They all prayed to heaven. The biblical author called them pitiable, since even the high priest was in anguish. This anxiety was about honor and money. They called upon the Almighty Lord to keep their treasures safe. Nevertheless, Heliodorus was determined to do what he had decided to do, to inspect the Temple finances.