The great condemnation (Lk 20:47-20:47)

“The Scribes

Devour

Widows’ houses.

They say long prayers

For the sake of appearance.

They will receive

A greater condemnation.”

 

οἳ κατεσθίουσιν τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσεύχονται· οὗτοι λήμψονται περισσότερον κρίμα.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus continued with his condemnation of the Scribes.  He said that the Scribes devour widows’ houses (οἱ κατεσθίοντες τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν).  They say long prayers for the sake of appearance (καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι).  They will receive the greater condemnation (οὗτοι λήμψονται περισσότερον κρίμα).  Mark, chapter 12:40, and Matthew, chapter 23:14, are almost word for word like here in Luke.  They all talked about how these Scribes took advantage of widows and pretended to be men of prayer.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that these Scribes devoured widows’ houses (οἱ κατεσθίοντες τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν), the same as Luke.  What did he mean by that?  They obviously took advantage of the generosity of widows.  For the sake of appearances, these Scribes said long prayers (καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι).  Thus, they would receive a great severe condemnation (οὗτοι λήμψονται περισσότερον κρίμα.) for their behavior.  Once again, there was no mention of any Pharisees, just the Scribes.  In Matthew, this first part of the opening verse is exactly the same as the preceding verse.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing both the Scribes and the Pharisees, who were devouring widow’s houses (ὅτι κατεσθίετε τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν), as they were taking advantage of widows.  They also made long lengthy prayers (καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι), so that they would look better and more pious.  However, they were about to receive a greater condemnation (διὰ τοῦτο λήψεσθε περισσότερον κρίμα) than they had expected.  Once again, the major difference was the role of the Pharisees in Matthew, that is not in Luke or Mark.  Are you a hypocrite?

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The motivation for fasting (Isa 58:3-58:5)

“Why do we fast?

You do not see it.

Why humble ourselves?

You do not notice it.

Look!

You serve your own interest

On your fast day.

You oppress all your workers.

Look!

You fast only to quarrel!

You fast only to fight!

You fast to strike with a wicked fist.

Such is the fasting

That you do today.

It will not make your voice

Heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose?

Is this a day to humble oneself?

Is it to bow down the head

Like a bulrush?

Is it to lie in sackcloth?

Is it to lie in ashes?

Will you call this a fast?

Will you call this

A day acceptable to Yahweh?”

Third Isaiah points out the hypocrisy of those who are fasting. Why are they fasting? God does not seem to notice them since they serve their own interests when they are fasting. While fasting, they oppress their workers, quarrel with others, and fight with strong fists. What kind of fast is that? This kind of fasting will get them nowhere. How will they be able to make their voice heard on high with these actions? They are not humble with this kind of fasting. Are they like a bulrush marsh plant? What about sackcloth and ashes? How can they call this acceptable to the Lord? This is a strong condemnation of useless unmotivated fasting.

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!

Idol food offerings (Sir 30:18-30:20)

“Good things poured out

Upon a mouth that is closed

Are like offerings of food

Placed upon a grave.

Of what use to an idol

Is a sacrifice?

The idol can neither eat

Nor smell.

Thus this one

Is punished

By the Lord.

He sees

With his eyes.

He groans.

As a eunuch groans

When embracing a girl.

So is the person

Who does right

Under compulsion.”

Why would you bring food offerings to the idols? This would be like giving food to someone who does not open their mouth. This would be like bringing food to a grave site. What is the use of this sacrifice? However, the various biblical books often talked about food offerings for Yahweh at the Temple in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, these idols cannot eat or smell. Thus the Lord will punish those who worship at these idols. He sees with his eyes. He groans like a eunuch when he embraces a young woman. Eunuchs were men whose testicles were removed or not working. They were impotent so that they would not be excited about embracing a girl. Sirach has a condemnation of someone who does the right thing because he is forced to do so.

Sinners until death (Sir 23:16-23:17)

“Two kinds of individuals

Multiply sins.

A third incurs wrath.

Hot passion blazes

Like a burning fire.

Hot passion

Will not be quenched

Until it burns itself out.

Whoever commits fornication

With his near of kin

Will never cease

Until the fire burns him up.

To a fornicator,

All bread is sweet.

He will never cease

Until he dies.”

Here Sirach is like Proverbs with a numerical proverb that is a little unclear. Some sinners multiply their sins, basically those with sins of passion. However, another kind of sinner incurs the wrath of God. Obviously, fornication is wrong. Hot passion blazes like a burning fire until it is quenched and burns itself out. The big sin is sexual fornication with a relative. Sirach believes that this fornicator will not cease until fire burns him up. Each fornicator believes that all bread is sweet, since they make no distinction on who they get involved with. They will only cease their bad habits at death. This is a strong condemnation of the indiscriminate sexual offender, especially those who get sexually involved with their own family members.

Destruction for the wicked (Ps 141:5-141:7)

“Let the righteous strike me!

Let the faithful correct me!

Never let the oil of the wicked anoint my head!

My prayer is continually against their wicked deeds.

When they are given over to those who shall condemn them,

Then they shall learn that my words were pleasant.

Like a rock that one breaks apart,

Like a rock that shatters on the land,

So shall their bones be strewn

At the mouth of Sheol.”

David said that the righteous and faithful ones should strike and correct him. However, he would never let the wicked ones anoint his head with oil or praise him in any way. In fact, he prayed continually to avoid wicked deeds. The results for the wicked were condemnation and unpleasant words. David wanted their bones to be like rocks breaking apart and being shattered all over the land so that they would end up at the mouth of the deadly underworld of Sheol.