A healthy eye (Mt 6:22-6:23)

“The eye is the lamp

Of the body.

So,

If your eye is clear,

Your whole body

Will be full of light.

But if your eye is

Evil,

Your whole body

Will be full of darkness.

If then the light

In you

Is darkness,

How great is that darkness!”

 

Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται·

ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον.

 

This saying of Jesus is similar to what is in Luke, chapter 11:34-35, so that it may be from the Q source.  The eye was the lamp of the body (Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός).  If there was a healthy clear sound eye (ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς), then you would have a whole body full of light (ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται).  This is the only time that the word “ἁπλοῦς” is used in the New Testament literature.  Both Luke and Matthew used it here, since it means simple, sound, clear, or perfect.  If, on the other hand, your eye was not healthy or evil (ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ), your whole body would be full of darkness (ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται).  Notice that Matthew did not use the opposite of clear, but chose the more common word for evil, “πονηρὸς.”  Thus, you had an evil eye.  On the other hand, both Luke and Matthew used a word that appears only here, “σκοτεινὸν,” to talk about a full total darkness.  If the light that is in you is dark (εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν), that is a really great darkness (τὸ σκότος πόσον).  Light and darkness was a common theme among the early Christians.  Light was good, but darkness was evil.  The connection of light to the eye was natural since the sense of blindness and darkness centered around the eyes.

Prophesy of the dry bones (Ezek 37:3-37:4)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Son of man!

Can these bones live?’

I answered.

‘O Yahweh God!

You know!’

Then he said to me.

‘Prophesy

To these bones!

Say to them!

O dry bones!

Hear

The word of Yahweh!’”

This is a short crisp dialogue between Yahweh and Ezekiel. Normally, these oracles were long Yahweh monologues. Yahweh here asked Ezekiel if these dry bones could live. Ezekiel wisely responded that if anyone knew about them, it would be Yahweh himself. Then Yahweh told Ezekiel to prophesize to these dry bones. Ezekiel was to tell these dry bones to listen to the word of Yahweh, a common theme of many Yahweh oracles.

The people of Israel would return home (Ezek 36:8-36:8)

“But you!

O mountains of Israel!

You shall shoot out

Your branches.

You shall yield

Your fruit

For my people,

Israel.

They shall soon

Come home.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, told the mountains of Israel to shoot out from its branches. They were to get ready the yield from the fruit of its trees for his people. Why should they do this? Very simply, the people of Israel would return home soon, a common theme.

Futile sacrificial offerings (Isa 1:11-1:13)

“‘What to me

Is the multitude of your sacrifices?’

Says Yahweh.

‘I have had enough

Of burnt offerings

Of rams.

I have had enough

Of burnt offerings

Of the fat of fed beasts.

I do not delight

In the blood of bulls.

I do not delight

In the blood of lambs.

I do not delight

In the blood of goats.

When you come

To appear before me,

Who asked this

From your hand?

Trample my courts no more.

Bringing offerings is futile.

Incense is an abomination to me.’”

In a total rejection of the priestly Levitical Israelite line that stressed the importance and necessity of sacrificial offerings, Yahweh, via Isaiah, seems to call all of the Temple sacrifices useless. Why were there multitudes of sacrifices? Yahweh, the Lord, had had enough of priestly burnt offerings of rams, fatten animals, blood, bulls, lambs, and goats. Who asked you to bring all these animals? Why, of course it was God’s law, the Torah, especially the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It was a common theme as late as the wisdom literature. Here is an opposite strain of thought. Yahweh did not want his courts trampled, but that was what the law called for. This is a strong condemnation of incense, which was praised throughout all the other biblical writings because of its sweet smell. What a stunning reversal against the Torah!