Noble stones of the Temple (Lk 21:5-21:5)

“Some were speaking

About the Temple.

It was adorned

With beautiful stones.

These were gifts

Dedicated to God.”

 

Καί τινων λεγόντων περὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, ὅτι λίθοις καλοῖς καὶ ἀναθήμασιν κεκόσμηται,

 

Luke said that some people were speaking about the Temple (Καί τινων λεγόντων περὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ), since it was adorned with beautiful stones (ὅτι λίθοις καλοῖς), gifts dedicated to God (καὶ ἀναθήμασιν κεκόσμηται).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer to use the word ἀναθήμασιν that means a gift or offering dedicated in a temple by a worshipper or a gift or offering consecrated to God.  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:1, and Mark, chapter 13:1.  Mark said that Jesus was leaving the Temple (Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ).  Then one of his disciples (λέγει αὐτῷ εἷς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ) pointed out to him the beautiful Temple buildings.  This unnamed disciple called him teacher (Διδάσκαλε).  He wanted Jesus to see and look at the wonderful or great stones and buildings (ἴδε ποταποὶ λίθοι καὶ ποταπαὶ οἰκοδομαί).  Matthew, like Mark, indicated that Jesus came out of the Temple (Καὶ ἐξελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ).  As he was going away (ἐπορεύετο), his disciples came up to him to point out the beautiful Temple buildings (καὶ προσῆλθον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτῷ τὰς οἰκοδομὰς τοῦ ἱεροῦ).  The Jerusalem Temple had been under reconstruction since the time of Herod the Great in 19 BCE, but would not have been completed at the time of Jesus, since it was only finished in 63 CE.  However, most of the work would have been done by the time of Jesus.  Just like many churches, this Temple was not completed in a few years.  Do you know of any churches that took a long time to build or rebuild?

The infidelity of the past (Hos 9:10-9:10)

“Like grapes

In the wilderness,

I found Israel.

Like the first fruit

On the fig tree,

In its first season,

I saw your ancestors.

But they came

To Baal-peor.

They consecrated themselves

To Baal,

A thing of shame.

They became detestable,

Like the thing they loved.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, pointed out that their ancestors were like grapes plucked in the wilderness. They were like the first fruits of the first season of a fig tree. In the wilderness, they made a covenant with Yahweh. But then, their ancestors came to Baal-peor, as mentioned in Numbers, chapter 25. There, they intermarried with the women of Moab and worshipped the Canaanite fertility god of Baal. Thus, they consecrated themselves to the shameful Baal god. They became detestable, just like this Baal god. All this happened as they entered the land of Canaan.

Yahweh’s call to Jeremiah (Jer 1:4-1:5)

“Now the word of Yahweh

Came to me saying.

‘Before I formed you in the womb,

I knew you.

Before you were born,

I consecrated you.

I appointed you

A prophet to the nations.’”

The word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah. Yahweh told him that he was predestined to be a prophet before he was even formed in the womb. Yahweh knew him already. Before he was born, he was consecrated as a prophet. Yahweh has appointed him to be a prophet for all the nations.

Forgotten Tyre for seventy years (Isa 23:15-23:18)

“From that day,

Tyre will be forgotten

For seventy years,

The lifetime of one king.

At the end of seventy years,

It will happen to Tyre

As in the song

About the prostitute.

‘Take a harp!

Go about the city!

You forgotten prostitute!

Make sweet melody!

Sing many songs!

That you may be remembered!’

At the end of seventy years,

Yahweh will visit Tyre.

She will return to her trade.

She will prostitute herself

With all the kingdoms of the world

On the face of the earth.

Her merchandise,

Her wages will be dedicated

To Yahweh.

Her profits will not be stored.

They will not be hoarded.

Her merchandise will supply

Abundant food.

They will supply fine clothing

For those who live

In the presence of Yahweh.”

Isaiah proclaims that Tyre will be forgotten from that day of destruction for 70 years, instead of a total desolation, as in the previous verses. Tyre would disappear, but only for the lifetime of a king. At the end of 70 years, Tyre would be like an old prostitute that sings in the streets. Like a forgotten person, she would sing melodic songs so that she would be remembered. Then Yahweh would visit Tyre, so that it would be consecrated to Yahweh. Tyre would continue her prostituting trade ways with all the countries in the world. However, her merchandise and wages would be dedicated to Yahweh. Tyre would not store or hoard her profits, but her merchandise would provide food and clothing for those who lived in the presence of Yahweh, the Lord.

Moses (Sir 45:1-45:5)

“From Jacob’s descendants,

The Lord brought forth a godly man.

He found favor in the sight of all.

He was beloved by God.

He was beloved by the people.

Moses’ memory is blessed.

The Lord made him equal in glory

To the holy ones.

The Lord made him great.

Mosses brought terror to his enemies

By his words.

He performed swift miracles.

The Lord glorified him

In the presence of kings.

The Lord gave him commandments

For his people.

The Lord revealed to him his glory.

The Lord consecrated him for his faithfulness.

He sanctified him for his meekness.

He chose him out of all humans.

He allowed him to hear his voice.

He led him into the dark cloud.

He gave him the commandments

Face to face.

He gave him the law of life.

He gave him knowledge.

Thus Moses

Might teach Jacob the covenant.

He might teach Israel his decrees.”

Obviously, Sirach has Moses as one of these blessed famous godly men, who found favor in the sight of all people. He surely was a holy one as described in practically all the first part of Exodus, chapters 2-24. Moses was a later descendant of Jacob who was loved both by God and the people. However, Moses was a terror to his enemies, yet glorified in the presence of kings. He performed great miracles. The Lord gave him commandments face to face, as he was chosen and consecrated from all the people, because he was faithful and meek. He heard the voice of God in the dark cloud. He received the law of life and knowledge from God. Thus he was able to teach the covenant and the decrees to Jacob and Israel.

Refurnishing the Temple (1 Macc 4:48-4:51)

“They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple. They consecrated the courts. They made new holy vessels. They brought the lamp stand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they offered incense on the altar. They lit the lamps on the lamp stand so that they gave light in the temple. They placed the bread on the table. They hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.”

Then they rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the Temple. They consecrated the courts, and make new vessels. They brought in the lamp stand, the incense table, and the table for the bread. They also hung the curtains. With the lamp stands burning, they had light in the Temple. They finished refurnishing the Temple.

The alert in Judea (Jdt 4:1-4:3)

“The Israelites living in Judea heard of everything that Holofernes, the general of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians, had done to the nations. They heard that he had plundered and destroyed all their temples. Thus they were therefore greatly terrified at his approach. They were alarmed both for Jerusalem and for the temple of the Lord their God. They had only recently returned from exile. All the people of Judea had just now gathered together. The sacred vessels, the altar, and the temple had been consecrated after their profanation.”

This is where the history is anachronistic and confusing, as if it was simple already. This text says that they had recently returned from exile, but it was King Nebuchadnezzar who led them into exile. These would be the remaining poor or not important people, if historically correct. This author is probably referring to his own experiences here. If this was before the exile as it historically seems to be, they may be referring to the refurbishing and renewal of the Temple worship by King Josiah of Judah (640-609 BCE), about 30 years earlier. Notice that here the land is called Judea, a post-exilic expression, and not Judah, as was common before the exile.