And the Pharisees
Whether he would cure
On the Sabbath.
They might find
παρετηροῦντο δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι εἰ ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ θεραπεύει, ἵνα εὕρωσιν κατηγορεῖν αὐτοῦ.
Luke said that the Scribes (οἱ γραμματεῖς) and the Pharisees (καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) were watching or closely observing Jesus (παρετηροῦντο δὲ αὐτὸν) to see whether he would cure or heal (θεραπεύει) this man’s hand on the Sabbath (εἰ ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ). Thus, they might find an accusation against him (ἵνα εὕρωσιν κατηγορεῖν αὐτοῦ). Matthew, chapter 12:10, and Mark, chapter 3:2, are similar to this incident in Luke. However, Matthew had the Pharisees confront Jesus with a question, while Luke followed Mark in saying that the Scribes and Pharisees were merely watching to see if Jesus would cure this man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. Matthew said specifically that the Pharisees interrogated Jesus whether it was lawful to heal, cure, or serve anyone on the Sabbath. They were trying to see if they could accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. Jewish law allowed people to help in cases of distress on the Sabbath. Clearly, this was a trap question.
“They watched him,
To see whether
He would cure him
On the Sabbath.
They might accuse him.”
καὶ παρετήρουν αὐτὸν εἰ τοῖς σάββασιν θεραπεύσει αὐτόν, ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ.
Matthew, chapter 12:10, and Luke, chapter 6:7, are similar to this incident in Mark. However, Matthew had the Pharisees confront Jesus with a question, while Luke followed Mark in saying that the Scribes and Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would cure this man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. Mark said that the unnamed “they” were watching Jesus (καὶ παρετήρουν αὐτὸν) to see if he would cure the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath (εἰ τοῖς σάββασιν θεραπεύσει αὐτόν). Then they would accuse Jesus (ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ). They were trying to see if they could charge Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. However, Jewish law allowed people to help in cases of distress on the Sabbath.
“Yahweh God helps me.
Therefore I have not been disgraced.
Therefore I have set my face
Like a flint.
I know that I shall not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is Yahweh God who helps me.
Who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out
Like a garment.
The moth will eat them up.”
Second Isaiah says that this suffering servant will be vindicated. God would help him, so that he can suffer for God’s sake. This servant had a hard flint like face, because he knew that he would not be put to shame. Yahweh was near to him. Who was going to contend with this servant? Where were his adversaries? He would stand together with Yahweh. Let them try to confront him, because God would help him. No one will declare him guilty. All of them will wear out like a moth eaten old garment. Thus this is suffering for God with a clear purpose.
“Question a friend!
Perhaps he did not do it.
But if he did anything,
Then he may not do it again.
Question a neighbor!
Perhaps he did not say it.
But if he said it,
Then he may not repeat it.
Question a friend!
Often it is slander.
Do not believe everything you hear.
A person may make a slip
Without intending it.
Who has not sinned with his tongue?
Question your neighbor
Before you threaten him!
Let the law of the Most High
Take its course.
Do not be angry!”
Sirach warns us to verify what you have heard before you take any actions. You should go to the person and ask whether what you have heard is true or not. If a friend has done or said something, check it out to see if he did what you thought he did. Perhaps he will not do it again, if you confront him. Do the same with your neighbor. Here is the famous saying, “do not believe everything you hear.” Sometimes people slip and say something that they did not intend to say. Everyone has had a slip of the tongue. Everyone has sinned with their tongues. Always question people, before you threaten them. Let God’s law take its course. Do not be quick to anger.
“Who will say?
‘What have you done?’
Who will resist your judgment?
Who will accuse you?
For the destruction of nations
That you made?
Who will come before you?
Who will plead as an advocate?
Who will plead for the unrighteous?
Neither is there any god besides you,
Whose care is for all people.
Who can prove
That you have not judged unjustly?
Nor can any king confront you.
A monarch cannot confront you
About those whom you have punished.”
Who can question God? Who could resist him? Who will accuse him? Who will plead for the unrighteous? Who can prove that he judged unjustly? Notice that there is a shift from wisdom to God, who is then compared to all the other gods. This God (Θεός), formerly Yahweh, cares for all (πάντων) the people, not just the Israelites. No one could confront him, not even a king or a monarch (βασιλεὺς ἢ τύραννος). No one could question him about his punishments.
“All this I laid to heart,
Examining it all.
The righteous are in the hand of God.
The wise are in the hand of God.
Their deeds are in the hand of God.
Whether it is love or hate,
One does not know.
Everything that confronts them is vanity.”
Once again, we have the reflective Qoheleth examining his heart. Life and all the deeds of the righteous and the wise are in the hand of God. No one really knows love or hate, since everything they confront is useless or vanity.
“Evil people seek only rebellion.
A cruel messenger will be sent against them.
Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs,
Than to confront a fool immersed in folly.
Evil will not depart from the house
Of one who returns evil for good.
The beginning of strife is
Like letting out water.
So stop before the quarrel breaks out.
Whoever justifies the wicked,
Whoever condemns the righteous,
Are both alike.
They are an abomination to Yahweh.”
The evil people are rebellious. Therefore the good are in favor of the status quo. A cruel messenger will be sent to evil rebels, perhaps the angel of death. You are better off meeting a mama bear with her cubs than trying to confront a fool in his foolishness. Evil will stay in the house of those who return evil for good. A quarrel or strife is like running water. It is better to stop the quarrel before it breaks out. Whether you justify the wicked or condemn the righteous, you are both alike, an abomination before Yahweh.
By your sword
Deliver my life from the wicked!
Deliver me from mortals!
By your hand!
Deliver me from those mortals
Whose portion in life is in this world!
May their bellies be filled
With what you have stored up for them!
May their children have more than enough!
May they leave something over to their little ones.”
It was not good enough to pray to Yahweh, the psalmist wanted action. He wanted Yahweh to rise up and fight on his behalf. He wanted Yahweh to confront and overthrow them. He wanted his life protected from the wicked with a sword. He wanted Yahweh to deliver him from the hands of mortals. On top of that he wanted Yahweh to fill their bellies with what Yahweh had stored up for them. Not only his enemies, but their children and their little ones should be filled with the terrible things that Yahweh had in store for them.
“Will it make many supplications to you?
Will it speak soft words to you?
Will it make a covenant with you?
Will it be taken as your servant forever?
Will you play with it as with a bird?
Will you put it on a leash for your girls?
Will traders bargain over it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its skin with harpoons?
Can you fill its head with fishing spears?
Lay hands on it!
Think of the battle!
You will not do it again!
Any hope of capturing it will be disappointed.
The gods were even overwhelmed at the sight of it.
No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up.
Who can stand before it?
Who can confront it?
Who can be safe?
No one under the whole heaven can confront it?”
Like the popular children’s movie series, How to Train a Dragon, how are you to handle this big sea monster? However, this is not a play thing. Yahweh asks who can confront this Leviathan. Will it pray softy for him? Will it make a treaty with him? Would you play with it or put it on a leash? Do the traders buy and sell it? Could you put spears and harpoons into it? Leviathan cannot be captured because even the gods are overwhelmed seeing it. No one under the heavens could confront it or stand up to it. The Leviathan was the original bully since it did whatever it wanted to do.