The people did not like the nobleman (Lk 19:14-19:14)

“But the citizens

Of his country

Hated this nobleman.

They sent

A delegation

After him.

They said.

‘We do not want

This man

To rule over us.’”

 

οἱ δὲ πολῖται αὐτοῦ ἐμίσουν αὐτόν, καὶ ἀπέστειλαν πρεσβείαν ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ λέγοντες Οὐ θέλομεν τοῦτον βασιλεῦσαι ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus said the citizens of this country hated or detested this nobleman (οἱ δὲ πολῖται αὐτοῦ ἐμίσουν αὐτόν), without any indication of how they formed this opinion.  They sent a delegation after him (καὶ ἀπέστειλαν πρεσβείαν ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ) to go to that distant country to tell the authorities there that they did not want this man to rule over them (λέγοντες Οὐ θέλομεν τοῦτον βασιλεῦσαι ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς).  Once again, Luke used a word that only appears here among all the Greek biblical writings, πρεσβείαν that means seniority, embassy, a delegation, or eldership.  There was nothing like this in Matthew.  Some of the people living there did not want to have this nobleman as their ruler, so they may have sent a delegation to the Roman Emperor with this message.  Have you ever signed a petition or went to a local government meeting to complain about something?

Feed the pigs (Lk 15:15-15:15)

“Thus,

He went

And hired himself out

To one of the citizens

Of that country.

He sent him

To his fields

To feed the pigs.”

 

καὶ πορευθεὶς ἐκολλήθη ἑνὶ τῶν πολιτῶν τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης, καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτοῦ βόσκειν χοίρους·

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this young prodigal son went and hired himself out (καὶ πορευθεὶς ἐκολλήθη) to one of the citizens of that country (ἑνὶ τῶν πολιτῶν τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης), where he was living.  This land owner sent him to his fields (καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτοῦ) to feed the pigs (βόσκειν χοίρους).  Obvious, this was a non-Jewish country where pigs were raised for food, not a Jewish country where there would be no pork eaten.  What could be more humiliating for a Jewish person than taking care of unclean swine or pigs?  Have you ever had a job that you felt was degrading to you?

The flight from Jerusalem (Zech 14:5-14:5)

“You shall flee

By the valley

Of Yahweh’s mountain.

The valley between the mountains

Shall reach to Azal.

You shall flee,

As you fled

From the earthquake

In the days of King Uzziah

Of Judah.

Then Yahweh,

Your God,

Will come.

All the holy ones

Will be with him.”

The citizens of Jerusalem would flee their town via this valley in the Mount of Olives.  They would reach Azal, probably a small town beside the Mount of Olives.  Apparently, this was the same place where people fled during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah (781-740 BCE).  The Book of Amos in its first chapter mentioned an earthquake that took place at that time sometime around 760-750 BCE.  This must had made a big impact on people, because Zechariah mentioned it some 250 years later.  In the end, Yahweh, their God would come with his holy ones.  Thus, all the fugitives would be with Yahweh.

The fault of the Israelites (Jer 32:30-32:33)

“‘The people of Israel!

The people of Judah!

They have done nothing

But evil

In my sight

From their youth.

The people of Israel

Have done nothing

But provoke me to anger

By the work of their hands.’

Says Yahweh.

‘This city has aroused

My anger,

My wrath,

From the day it was built

Until this day.

Thus I will remove it

From my sight.

Because of all the evil

Of the people of Israel,

Of the people of Judah.

They provoked me to anger.

This includes

Their kings,

Their officials,

Their priests,

Their prophets,

The citizens of Judah,

The inhabitants of Jerusalem.

They have turned

Their back to me.

They have not turned

Their face to me.

Even though

I have taught them persistently,

They would not listen.

They would not accept correction.’”

Yahweh includes both Israel and Judah in this diatribe against all the Israelites, since they have done nothing but evil since their youth. By the work of their hands, they have provoked Yahweh to anger. The city of Jerusalem also aroused his anger, since the day that it was built. Yahweh was going to remove it because of all the evil that they had done. No one would be exempt, since their kings, officials, priests, prophets, citizens, and inhabitants of both Judah and Jerusalem had turned their backs on Yahweh, not their faces to Yahweh.  He had tried to teach them persistently, but they would not listen and accept correction.

King Antiochus IV reverses himself about the Jews (2 Macc 9:13-9:18)

“Then the abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him. He stated that the holy city, which he was hastening to level to the ground in order to make it a cemetery, was now declared to be free. He had not considered the Jews worth burying. He had planned to throw them out with their children for the wild animals and for the birds to pick on. However, now he would make all of them equal to citizens of Athens. The holy sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest offerings. All the holy vessels he would give back many times over. The expenses, incurred for the sacrifices, he would provide from his own revenues. In addition to all this he also would become a Jew. He would visit every inhabited place to proclaim the power of God. However, when his sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgment of God had justly come upon him, he gave up all hope for himself.”

This deathbed reversal of King Antiochus IV goes into greater detail here than in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. For Jerusalem, the city that he was going to make into a cemetery, now he was declaring it a free city. For the Jews themselves, instead of letting their bodies lay in the open for the wild animals and birds, he was making them citizens like the people in Athens. He was going to give fine offerings for the sanctuary he had plundered. He was going to return all the holy vessels that he took and more. He would pay for the expenses of the sacrifices out of his own revenue. He also was willing to become a Jew. He was going to go every place to proclaim God. However, his own just sufferings did not stop. He gave up all hope for himself. Thus this born again conversion of the king included the idea of becoming a Jew, which was extraordinary.

The Olympics at Tyre (2 Macc 4:18-4:20)

When the quadrennial games were being held at Tyre, the king was present. The vile Jason sent envoys, chosen as being citizens of Antioch from Jerusalem. They were to carry three hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. Those who carried the money, however, thought best not to use it for sacrifice, because that was inappropriate. They spent if for another purpose. So this money that was intended by the sender for the sacrifice to Hercules, but by the decision of its carriers it was applied to the construction of triremes.”

Now we have the Olympics in the biblical tradition. The quadrennial Olympics were held in Tyre. The Greek Olympics began in 776 BCE. However, they were eliminated by the Christian Emperor Theodosius in 393 CE as a pagan cult. Although the Olympics were only held in Olympia in Greece, there were other gatherings of athletes in what might be called Pan-Hellenic Games that were held throughout the ancient world in various cities at different times what were also called Olympics. Tyre was an important sea port town north of Palestine. Hercules was the name of god of Tyre. Instead of offering the sacrifice to Hercules, these so-called Antiochian envoys to these games made triremes, war vessels with rowers on each side.

Jason, the high priest tales over (2 Macc 4:7-4:10)

“When King Seleucus died, King Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, succeeded to the kingdom. Then Jason, the brother of Onias, obtained the high priesthood by corruption. He promised the king at an interview three hundred sixty talents of silver and, from another source of revenue, eighty talents. In addition to this, he promised to pay one hundred fifty more if permission were given to establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth for it. He wanted to enroll the men of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch. When the king assented, Jason came to office. He at once shifted his countrymen over to the Greek way of life.”

By the time that Onias arrived in Antioch, Heliodorus had already assassinated King Seleucus IV (187-175 BCE). Now King Antiochus IV (175-164 BCE), the son of King Antiochus III who had ruled from 222-187 BCE, became king. He was the brother of King Seleucus IV. Jason was the brother of the high priest Onias, so that he was a Levite. He obtained the high priesthood by corruption. I still think that it is strange that the Syrian king had the right to name the Jewish high priest. Jason has promised the new king about 440 talents of silver, the equivalent of a quarter million $USA. He wanted a Greek gymnasium in Jerusalem that would become the center of political and cultural education. He also wanted all the men of Jerusalem to be citizens of Antioch. The new King Antiochus IV said fine. Thus Jason took over as the new high priest of Jerusalem. He wanted to shift his countrymen to the new Greek way of life. Unlike in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, where the movement to the Greek way was led by the generic renegades, here it is explicitly assigned to Jason, the new high priest. Despite his protestations of not getting into details, this biblical author explained the role of the high priest Onias and his brother Jason in great detail.