Proclaim the kingdom! (Lk 9:60-9:60)

“But Jesus

Said to him.

‘Let the dead

Bury

Their own dead!

But as for you!

Go!

Proclaim

The kingdom of God!’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ Ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς, σὺ δὲ ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus responded to this man (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ) who wanted to bury his father.  He told him to let the dead (Ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς) bury their own dead (θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς).  He wanted him to go forth and proclaim (σὺ δὲ ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε) the kingdom of God (τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This saying of Jesus is almost the same as in Matthew, chapter 8:22, indicating a possible Q source.  Once again, this is a harsh saying about the discipleship of Jesus.  Matthew indicated that Jesus’ response was not very compassionate.  Quite the opposite, Jesus told his follower to follow him.  Jesus added, that the dead should bury their own dead.  This seems to deny any mourning period.  Although the burying of a dead father was a sacred filial duty, Jesus put the role of discipleship above that.  Is proclaiming the message of Jesus more important than the funeral of your father?

Follow me! (Lk 9:59-9:59)

“Jesus said

To another person.

‘Follow me!’

But this person said.

‘Lord!

First let me go

Bury my father!’”

 

Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς ἕτερον Ἀκολούθει μοι. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, Κύριε, Ἐπίτρεψόν μοι πρῶτον ἀπελθόντι θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to another person (Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς ἕτερον) to follow him (Ἀκολούθει μοι).  However, this person responded (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) to Jesus by calling him “Lord (Κύριε)”.  He wanted to be allowed to first go away (Ἐπίτρεψόν μοι πρῶτον ἀπελθόντι) and bury his father (θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου).  This saying of Jesus is almost the same in Matthew, chapter 8:21, indicating a possible Q source.  Once again, this is a harsh saying about the discipleship of Jesus.  Matthew said that another follower of Jesus said to him, calling him the “Lord” (Κύριε) that he wanted to bury his father first, as it was the Jewish custom and an important Jewish responsibility to bury people within 7 days.  How important was burying your father to you?

The widow’s dead son (Lk 7:12-7:12)

“As Jesus approached

The gate of the town,

He saw

A dead man

Being carried out.

He was his mother’s

Only son.

She was also a widow.

A large crowd

From the town

Was with her.”

 

ὡς δὲ ἤγγισεν τῇ πύλῃ τῆς πόλεως, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐξεκομίζετο τεθνηκὼς μονογενὴς υἱὸς τῇ μητρὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτὴ ἦν χήρα, καὶ ὄχλος τῆς πόλεως ἱκανὸς ἦν σὺν αὐτῇ.

 

Luke has this unique story about the widow at Nain, since he had a soft spot for widows.  Luke said that as Jesus approached (ὡς δὲ ἤγγισεν) the gate of the town of Nain (ῇ πύλῃ τῆς πόλεως), he saw a dead man being carried out (καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐξεκομίζετο τεθνηκὼς).  He was his mother’s only son (μονογενὴς υἱὸς τῇ μητρὶ αὐτοῦ).  She was also a widow (καὶ αὐτὴ ἦν χήρα).  There was a large crowd of mourners from the town with her (καὶ ὄχλος τῆς πόλεως ἱκανὸς ἦν σὺν αὐτῇ).  They would bury people in cemeteries outside the town gates.  Thus, Jesus and his entourage saw this take place outside the town.  There were many people with his poor widow, mourning his death, as they prepared to bury him.  They must have learned somehow that she was a widow burying her only son.  Is losing an only child that difficult?  Or is losing a husband more difficult?

The death of a father (Mt 8:21-8:22)

“Another of the disciples

Said to him.

‘Lord!

Let me first go

To bury my father!’

But Jesus said to him,

‘Follow me!

Let the dead

Bury their own dead.’”

 

τερος δὲ τῶν μαθητῶν εἶπεν αὐτῷ Κύριε, ἐπίτρεψόν μοι πρῶτον ἀπελθεῖν καὶ θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου.

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτῷ Ἀκολούθει μοι, καὶ ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς.

 

This saying of Jesus is almost the same in Luke, chapter 9:59-60, indicating a possible Q source.  Once again, this is a harsh saying about discipleship of Jesus.  Another follower of Jesus (τερος δὲ τῶν μαθητῶν) said to him (εἶπεν αὐτῷ), calling him the “Lord” (Κύριε) that he wanted to be allowed to bury his father first (ἐπίτρεψόν μοι πρῶτον ἀπελθεῖν καὶ θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου), as it was the Jewish custom to bury people within 7 days.  However, Jesus’ response was not very compassionate.  Quite the opposite, Jesus told his follower (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτῷ), a true disciple of Jesus who was a “μαθητῶν,” to follow him (Ἀκολούθει μοι).  Jesus added, that the dead should bury their own dead (καὶ ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς).  This seems to deny any mourning period.

The seven-month search and burial (Ezek 39:12-39:16)

“‘The house of Israel

Shall spend

Seven months

Burying them,

In order to cleanse

The land.

All the people

Of the land

Shall bury them.

It will bring them honor

On the day

That I show my glory.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘They will set apart men

To pass through

The land continually.

They will bury

Any invaders who remain

On the face of the land.

It will then be cleansed.

They will make their search.

For seven months.

As the searchers

Pass through the land,

Anyone who sees

A human bone

Shall set up

A sign by it,

Until the buriers

Have buried it

In the Valley of Hamon-gog.

A city Hamonah

Is there also.

Thus,

They shall cleanse

The land.”

The house of Israel was to spend 7 months burying the men with Gog, so that they could cleanse the land of Israel and its people. These grave diggers would gain honor on the day when Yahweh was going to show his glory. These body searchers would be set apart to pass through the land continually. They would bury any remains they found. Anyone who saw a human bone was to set up a sign by it, until these buriers buried them in the Valley of Hamon-gog or the city Hamonah, next to it. Thus, the land would be cleansed by removing these dead bodies in 7 months.

The oracle about the stones for King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 43:8-43:10)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah

In Tahpanhes.

‘Take some large stones

In your hands!

Bury them

In the clay pavement

At the entrance

To Pharaoh’s palace

In Tahpanhes!

Let the Judeans

See you do it!

Then say to them.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to send

King Nebuchadnezzar.

I am going to take

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

My servant.

He will set his throne

Above these stones

That I have buried.

He will spread

His royal canopy

Over them.’”

Yahweh utters an oracle to Jeremiah, even though he is in the Egyptian northeastern border town of Tahpanhes, where the Suez Canal is today. Once again Yahweh wants Jeremiah to do some symbolic action to get a point across. Jeremiah was to take large stones and then bury them in the pavement at the entrance to the palace of the Egyptian Pharaoh. He was to do this in front of all his fellow Judean expatriates. Then he uttered God’s prophetic oracle that King Nebuchadnezzar, his servant like his own servant prophets, would put his throne on top of these stones. He would then spread out his royal canopy over them. In other words, the Babylonian king was going to take over Egypt. It actually happened in 568 BCE, about 20 years after this action.

Jerusalem shall be like Topheth (Jer 19:11-19:13)

“‘In Topheth,

They shall bury

Until there is no more room

To bury people.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Thus will I do to this place,

As well as to its inhabitants.

I will make this city

Like Topheth.

The houses of Jerusalem

Shall be defiled.

The houses of the kings of Judah

Shall be defiled

Like the place of Topheth.

All the houses

Upon whose roofs

Offerings have been made

To the whole host of heaven

Shall be defiled.

Where libations have been poured out

To other gods,

They shall be defiled

Like the place of Topheth.’”

Yahweh says that they will bury people in Topheth until there is no more room there. Then Jerusalem would be like Topheth, mentioned in chapter 7 and earlier in this chapter, a place in Jerusalem where the ancient Canaanites had worshipped and sacrificed children in the valley of Hinnom. Thus this Topheth would not exist any longer, because it would become known just for dead bodies. Now both the house of Judah and Jerusalem would be defiled like Topheth, because there would be so many unclean dead people all around. Further, those places that had roof top offerings and libations to the various heavenly bodies or gods would also be defiled like Topheth.