The circumcision (Lk 1:59-1: 59)

“On the eighth day,

They came

To circumcise

The child.

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ὀγδόῃ ἦλθον περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον,

 

Luke explained what happened on the eighth day (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ὀγδόῃ) after the birth of the child.  They came to circumcise this child (ἦλθον περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον).  This circumcision, brit milah, or bris was a sign of the covenant with God that goes back to Abraham in Genesis, chapter 17:11-12.  This sacerdotal covenant alliance story emphasized male circumcision as the main part of the Yahweh covenant.  Thus. circumcision became a big deal.  Every male was to be circumcised by removing the flesh of the foreskin of his penis, when he was eight days old.  This also included male slaves born or brought into the house.  An uncircumcised Jewish male would be cut off from his people, because he had broken the covenant with God.  Circumcision has been practiced among many ancient and contemporary groups for either religious or hygienic reasons.  In fact, despite their differences, Islamic males practice circumcision also.  In the USA, most boys born in a hospital are circumcised for hygienic or health purposes.

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The falling cornerstone (Mt 21:44-21:44)

“The one who falls

On this stone

Will be broken

To pieces.

It will crush anyone

On whom it falls.”

 

καὶ ὁ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸν λίθον τοῦτον συνθλασθήσεται· ἐφ’ ὃν δ’ ἂν πέσῃ, λικμήσει αὐτόν

 

This is exactly the same in Luke 20:18, but it is missing in many manuscripts of Matthew.  Jesus came back to his cornerstone idea.  If anyone fell on this key stone (καὶ ὁ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸν λίθον), they would be broken or shattered into pieces (τοῦτον συνθλασθήσεται).  If this stone fell on anyone (ἐφ’ ὃν δ’ ἂν πέσῃ), it would crush and grind them into powder (λικμήσει αὐτόν).  You had to be careful with this cornerstone.

The second broken staff of union (Zech 11:14-11:14)

“Then I broke

My second staff,

Union.

This annulled

The family ties

Between Judah and Israel.”

Zechariah broke the 2nd staff named unity to indicate that the family ties between northern Israel and southern Judah were broken.  Perhaps, this was the final break between the northern Israelites or Samaritans and the southern Judeans of Judah.  Sometime in the 4th century BCE, the northern Samaritans built a temple at Mount Gerizim that opposed worship in southern Jerusalem.

The punishment for Samaria (Hos 13:15-13:16)

“Although he may flourish

Among the rushes of reed plants,

The east wind shall come,

A blast from Yahweh.

It will rise

From the wilderness.

His fountain

Shall dry up.

His spring

Shall be parched.

It shall strip

His treasury

Of every precious thing.

Samaria shall bear

Her guilt.

Because she has rebelled

Against her God.

They shall fall

By the sword.

Their little ones

Shall be dashed

In pieces.

Their pregnant women

Shall be ripped open.”

This is very strong criticism of Samaria, the capital city of the northern Israelite kingdom. It might flourish now, but the deadly east wind of Yahweh will come from the wilderness. Its fountains and springs will dry up and be parched. It will lose all the precious things of its treasury. Samaria will have to carry the guilt, because it rebelled against God. It will fall by the sword or die. Its little children will be broken into little pieces. Its pregnant women will have their pregnancies terminated by ripping open their wombs. This will be a bad time for Samaria.

Israelite idolatry (Hos 8:4-8:6)

“They made kings,

But not through me.

They set up princes,

But without my knowledge.

With their silver,

With their gold,

They made idols

For their own destruction.

Your calf is rejected!

O Samaria!

My anger burns

Against them.

How long

Will they be incapable

O innocence?

It is from Israel

That an artisan made it.

It is not God.

The calf of Samaria

Shall be broken into pieces.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, was upset about the idolatry in northern Israel, Samaria. They had their own kings, who killed each other to be kings. Thus, these kings did not come from Yahweh. They set up their own officials and princes, without consulting Yahweh. Most important of all, they made idols made of silver and gold that led to their own destruction. The golden calf of Samaria was to be rejected. Yahweh was burning with anger against them, since they were incapable of being innocent. Local Israelite artisans made these idols, not God. Therefore, the Samarian calf would be broken into pieces.

Sound the alarm trumpet (Hos 8:1-8:3)

“Set the trumpet

To your lips!

A vulture is over

The house of Yahweh.

They have broken

My covenant.

They have transgressed

My law.

Israel cries to me!

‘My God!

We!

Israel!

Know you!’

Israel has spurned

The good.

The enemy

Shall pursue him.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, told the Israelites to sound the alarm with a trumpet. The vulture or the Assyrian army was coming to the house of Yahweh. These Israelites had broken his covenant. They had transgressed his law. Yet they came crying to him, since they knew Yahweh. However, it was too late. They knew that they had turned away from the good Yahweh. Now their enemy, the Assyrians, would pursue them.

Past crimes (Hos 6:7-6:9)

“But like Adam,

They transgressed the covenant.

There they dealt faithlessly

With me.

Gilead is a city

Of evildoers,

Tracked with blood.

As robbers lie in wait

For someone,

So,

The priests

Are banded together.

They murder

On the way to Shechem.

They commit

A monstrous crime.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, compared the sin of Adam with the other later Israelites. They had broken the covenant. Perhaps the “there” mentioned here was the 40 years in the wilderness, when sometimes they were unfaithful to Yahweh. The city of Gilead, on the other side of the Jordan River, was a city of bloody evil people. Just as robbers wait for someone to come by to rob, so the priests have joined together to murder people on their way to the northern shrine at Shechem. They have committed all kinds of monstrous crimes. Perhaps, this northern Israelite Samaritan sanctuary was considered the great monstrosity. Notice the continual anti-clericalism of the prophets.