A sign from heaven (Lk 11:16-11:16)

“Others,

To test Jesus,

Kept demanding

A sign from heaven.”

 

ἕτεροι δὲ πειράζοντες σημεῖον ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἐζήτουν παρ’ αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that other people tried to test Jesus (ἕτεροι δὲ πειράζοντες), by demanding or seeking from him (ἐζήτουν παρ’ αὐτοῦ) a sign from heaven (σημεῖον ἐξ οὐρανοῦ).  There were other instances about people looking for signs from heaven, but not within this context.  In Mark, chapter 8:11, the Pharisees asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven, since they wanted to test Jesus.  Heavenly signs had been common among the prophets to prove their authenticity.  In Matthew, chapter 16:1, both the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus.  They wanted to test Jesus also.  They also asked him to show them a heavenly validation of his work.  Later in Luke, chapter 11:29, there was also talk about the sign of Jonah.  Thus, there was a continual attempt to test Jesus, by asking him to give some heavenly signs.  Do you try to test Jesus in your life?

 

Jesus goes to Simon’s house (Mk 1:29-1:29)

“As soon as

He left the synagogue,

Jesus entered

The house of Simon

And Andrew,

With James

And John.”

 

Καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς ἐξελθόντες ἦλθον εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος καὶ Ἀνδρέου μετὰ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωάνου.

 

Matthew, chapter 8:14, and Luke, chapter 4:38, have something similar, as well.  Mark said that as soon as Jesus left the synagogue (Καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς ἐξελθόντες), he entered the house of Simon and Andrew (ἦλθον εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος καὶ Ἀνδρέου), with James and John with them (μετὰ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωάνου).  Mark indicates that it is the house of both Simon and his brother Andrew, not just Peter, so that it may have been a family residence.  Matthew said clearly it was Peter’s house, using his Greek name given by Jesus, while Luke also clearly said that it was Simon’s house, not Peter’s, using his Hebrew name.  There was no mention of James and John being there in either Matthew or Luke.  Only Mark mentions them here.  The context is different in Luke and Mark since Jesus was leaving the synagogue.  However, Matthew had them coming here after curing the centurion’s servant.  Anyway, the 5 of them, Jesus and his 4 disciples, are in the place where Simon or Peter stayed or lived in Capernaum.

The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mt 8:14-8:15)

“When Jesus entered

Peter’s house,

He saw

His mother-in-law

Lying in bed

With a fever.

He touched

Her hand.

The fever left her.

She got up.

She began to serve them.”

 

Καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Πέτρου εἶδεν τὴν πενθερὰν αὐτοῦ βεβλημένην καὶ πυρέσσουσαν·

καὶ ἥψατο τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς, καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτὴν ὁ πυρετός· καὶ ἠγέρθη, καὶ διηκόνει αὐτῷ.

 

This healing story about the mother-in-law of Peter can be found in Mark, chapter 1:29-31, and Luke, chapter 4:38-39.  The context is different in Luke and Mark since Jesus was leaving the synagogue.  He also went into Simon’s house, his Hebrew name, rather than Peter’s house, his Greek name.  Here Jesus entered Peter’s house (Καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Πέτρου).  He then saw Peter’s mother-in-law (εἶδεν τὴν πενθερὰν αὐτοῦ), lying in bed sick with a fever (βεβλημένην καὶ πυρέσσουσαν).  He then touched her hand (καὶ ἥψατο τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς) and her fever went away (καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτὴν ὁ πυρετός).  Then she got up and began to serve or wait on them (καὶ ἠγέρθη, καὶ διηκόνει αὐτῷ.) with her normal hospitality.  This was a typical healing that took place with a touching hand.  The mother-in law of Peter was staying at his house.  She was cured so well, that she able to do the normal tasks of hospitality.  However, there was no mention of Peter’s wife.

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 1:22-1:23)

“All this took place

To fulfil

What had been spoken

By the Lord

Through the prophet.

‘Look!

The virgin young woman

Shall conceive.

She shall bear a son.

They shall name him

Emmanuel.’

This translated means.

‘God with us.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.

 

This dream with the angelic message took place (Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν), so that the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 7, would be fulfilled (πληρωθῇ). Matthew said that these were the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet (τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος), without explicitly naming Isaiah. When you look at the context of this saying in Isaiah, he was talking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David. He said that Yahweh was going to give them a sign that a young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, would have a child. This child would be called Emmanuel that meant “God is with us.” Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus, as here in Matthew. However, the original context in Isaiah seems to indicate that King Ahaz would have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz turned out to be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. A key to understanding this interpretation of Isaiah is the Greek word ἡ παρθένος. Does this mean a young woman or a virgin? The assumption was that all young women who were not married were virgins, without explicitly saying that this Greek word meant virgin. This young virgin girl had a child in her womb (ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει). She was going to have a son (καὶ τέξεται υἱόν). They were going to name this son Emmanuel (καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ,). Matthew seems to imply that this Hebrew word Emmanuel needed to be translated (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον) into Greek for his readers. Thus, he explained that it meant “God is with us.” This actually was in the original Isaiah statement, but Isaiah never used the word translated (μεθερμηνευόμενον). Thus, God will be with us in the person of Jesus, the Savior, Emmanuel. There is no mention of an anointed one or Christ here.

How to read the Bible

Be a faithful reader, regularly and with the eyes of faith.  Be an active reader, intelligently and critically.  Put the texts in context, read from a tradition and a believing community.  Read the Bible as a whole, not isolating passages.  Understand the background of each book.  Try to understand the consensus opinion about texts.  Appreciate the major themes and narratives.  Be open to God and his word.  Be aware of the continuity and discontinuity.  Try to translate the Bible to your life situations

The symbolic history of Jerusalem (Ezek 16:1-16:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Make known

To Jerusalem

Her abominations!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God

To Jerusalem.

Your origin,

Your birth

Were in the land

Of the Canaanites.

Your father was

An Amorite.

Your mother was

A Hittite.’”

Once again, Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This time, it was about the origins and symbolic history of Jerusalem. The context was a berating of Jerusalem and her abominations. Unlike most stories of Israel that talk about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the Egyptian experience under Moses, this history of Jerusalem starts with the Canaanites. This has led many to believe that there may be some validity to this history. Of course, this is specifically aimed at the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They were Canaanites whose mother was a Hittite with their father an Amorite. The Amorites were an ancient Syrian tribe with a Semitic language that also lived in Canaan from about 1700 BCE. From a biblical perspective based on Genesis, chapter 10, they were the descendants of Canaan and Ham. Amorite and Canaanite were interchangeable. They were definitely there before the Moses-Joshua experience. The Hittites were another Canaanite group that seemed to be friendly in many of the Genesis stories.

The day of destruction is near (Isa 13:6-13:8)

“Wail!

The day of Yahweh is near!

It will come

Like destruction

From the Almighty Shaddai!

Therefore all hands

Will be feeble.

Every human heart

Will melt.

They will be dismayed.

Pangs will seize them.

Agony will seize them.

They will be in anguish

Like a woman in labor.

They will look aghast

At one another.

Their faces will be aflame.”

It is hard to tell from the text itself if this is a reference to the destruction of Babylon or some general end of the world destruction. The context, however, leans towards the fall of Babylon. This destructive day of Yahweh, the Lord, is near since there is a mention of God as the almighty Shaddai. Everyone’s hands will be weak as their hearts will melt. They will be dismayed with pangs and agony. They will be in anguish like a woman in labor at childbirth. They will get no comfort from each other as they will have fiery faces. This does not sound good.