Take a discount (Lk 16:7-16:7)

“Then the manager

Asked another debtor.

‘How much do you owe?’

He replied.

‘A hundred containers

Of wheat.’

The manager said to him.

‘Take your bill!

Make it eighty!’”

 

ἔπειτα ἑτέρῳ εἶπεν Σὺ δὲ πόσον ὀφείλεις; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἑκατὸν κόρους σίτου. λέγει αὐτῷ Δέξαι σου τὰ γράμματα καὶ γράψον ὀγδοήκοντα.

 

This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the house manager asked another debtor (ἔπειτα ἑτέρῳ εἶπεν) how much did he owe his master (Σὺ δὲ πόσον ὀφείλεις).  This debtor replied (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) that he owed 100 cors or containers of wheat (Ἑκατὸν κόρους σίτου).  Once again, Luke was the only biblical writer to use this term κόρους that means a cor, about 15 bushels, a dry measure, equivalent to 120 gallons.  This dishonest manager then told him (λέγει αὐτῷ) to take his bill (Δέξαι σου τὰ γράμματα) and make it 80 cors (καὶ γράψον ὀγδοήκοντα).  This was only a 20% discount or a reduction from 1,500 bushels to 1,200 bushels of wheat.  This corrupt manager was not as kind to this debtor, compared to the first debtor.  Is debt a good thing to have?

Jesus was upset (Lk 9:41-9:41)

“Jesus answered.

‘O faithless generation!

O perverse generation!

How much longer

Must I be with you?

How much longer

Must I bear with you?

Bring your son here!’”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε ἔσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; προσάγαγε ὧδε τὸν υἱόν σου.

 

Jesus appeared to be exasperated with them.  Luke indicated that Jesus answered by saying (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν) that they were a faithless (Ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος) and perverted generation (καὶ διεστραμμένη).  He wanted to know how many more days he would have to be with them (ἕως πότε ἔσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς)?  How much longer would he have to put up with them (καὶ ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν)?  Finally, he said to the man to bring his son (προσάγαγε ὧδε τὸν υἱόν σου).  The response of Jesus to the father of the incurable epileptic son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:17, Mark, chapter 9:19, and here in Luke, almost word for word.  Mark said that Jesus responded to them, as he called them out as a faithless generation.  Almost in desperation, he wondered how much longer he was going to be with them and how much longer would he have to bear with them.  He told them to bring the boy to him.  Matthew said that Jesus reprimanded his disciples, as Jesus called them out as a faithless, corrupt, and perverse generation.  He also wondered how much longer he was going to be with them and how much longer he had to put up with them.  He told them to bring the boy to him.  Have you ever been exasperated with certain people?

Jesus heals the epileptic boy (Mt 17:17-17:18)

“Jesus answered.

‘You faithless generation!

You perverse generation!

How much longer

Must I be with you?

How much longer

Must I put up with you?

Bring him here to me!’

Jesus rebuked the demon.

The demon came out of him.

The boy was cured instantly.”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε μεθ’ ὑμῶν ἔσομαι; ἕως πότε ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; φέρετέ μοι αὐτὸν ὧδε.

καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τὸ δαιμόνιον, καὶ ἐθεραπεύθη ὁ παῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης.

 

Problem solved, as Jesus cured the epileptic son.  However, he also reprimanded his disciples at the same time.  The healing of the man with the uncurable epileptic son can be found in the other synoptic gospels.  Mark, chapter 9:19-27, has an extended detailed version of this story, while Luke, chapter 9:41-42, has a short version of this story.  Jesus called them out (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν) as a faithless, corrupt, and perverse generation (Ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη).  Almost in desperation, he wondered how much longer he was going to be with them (ἕως πότε μεθ’ ὑμῶν ἔσομαι) and how much longer he had to bear with or put up with them (ἕως πότε μεθ’ ὑμῶν ἔσομαι).  He told them to bring the boy to him (φέρετέ μοι αὐτὸν ὧδε).  Finally, Jesus rebuked the demon (καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  Once the demon came out of the boy (καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τὸ δαιμόνιον), he was cured instantly or at that hour (καὶ ἐθεραπεύθη ὁ παῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης).  There was a clear equivalence between the illness of epilepsy and demonic possession.  Once the devil or evil spirits had left the boy, he was cured of his illness.

Exposed iniquities of the king of Tyre (Ezek 28:17-28:19)

“Your heart was proud

Because of your beauty.

You corrupted

Your wisdom

For the sake

Of your splendor.

I cast you

To the ground.

I exposed you

Before kings,

To feast their eyes

On you.

By the multitude

Of your iniquities,

In the unrighteousness

Of your trade,

You profaned

Your sanctuaries.

Thus I brought out fire

From within you.

It consumed you.

I turned you

To ashes

On the earth,

In the sight

Of all who saw you.

All who know you

Among the people

Are appalled at you.

You have come

To a dreadful end.

You shall be no more

Forever.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, had a strong condemnation of Tyre and its king. The king of Tyre had become proud because of his beauty. His great trade wisdom had become corrupt. Yahweh cast them down, despite their splendor. He exposed them before other kings and people. Everyone was able to see the multitude of their iniquities and their unrighteous trade practices. Tyre had profaned their own sanctuaries. Yahweh then brought fire to consume them. He turned them into ashes on the ground in the sight of everyone, so that everyone was appalled at the dreadful end of Tyre, who would not exist anymore. However, Tyre did continue to exist.

Oholibah was worse than her sister (Ezek 23:11-23:11)

“Her sister Oholibah
Saw this.
Yet she was more corrupt
Than her sister
In her lusting,
In her prostitution activities.
She was worse
Than her sister.”
Yahweh, via Ezekiel, then took on Oholibah, Jerusalem, the sister of Oholah, Samaria. Yahweh said that Oholibah was more corrupt than her northern sister in her lusting and prostitution actions. Jerusalem was even worse than her northern sister, Samaria.

Jerusalem’s sisters (Ezek 16:46-16:47)

“Your elder sister

Is Samaria.

She lived

With her daughters

To the north of you.

Your younger sister

Is Sodom.

She lived

With her daughters

To the south of you.

You not only

Followed their ways,

But you acted according

To their abominations.

Within a very little time

You were more corrupt

Than they

In all your ways.”

Jerusalem had an elder sister to the north with her children in Samaria. She also had a younger sister to the south with her children in Sodom. Samaria was the ruined people and capital of the old northern kingdom of Israel. Sodom was the place of infamy in Genesis. Not only did Jerusalem follow their terrible ways, she was even worse. She became more corrupt than they were.

Yahweh’s rejection (Jer 6:27-6:30)

“I have made you a tester.

You are a refiner among my people.

Thus you may know their ways.

You may test their ways.

They are all stubbornly rebellious.

They go about with slanders.

They are bronze.

They are iron.

All of them act corruptly.

The bellows blow fiercely.

The lead is consumed by the fire.

In vain,

The refining goes on.

The wicked are not removed.

They are called

‘Rejected silver.’

Yahweh has rejected them.”

Jeremiah was to be the tester for Yahweh. He was going to test the faithfulness of the people. Thus there is a comparison with testing metals. Jeremiah found that they were all rebellious corrupt slanderous people. He was going to test them as if they were iron or bronze. The lead was consumed in the fire but no precious metals were to be found. The wicked were not removed, so that they came up as rejected silver. Thus Yahweh has rejected these wicked people.

The dichotomies of life

“A good name is better

Than precious ointment.

The day of death is better

Than the day of birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning

Than to go to the house of feasting.

This is the end of everyone.

The living will lay it to heart.

Sorrow is better

Than laughter.

By sadness of countenance,

The heart is made glad.

The heart of the wise

Is in the house of mourning.

But the heart of fools is

In the house of mirth.

It is better for a man

To hear the rebuke of the wise

Than to hear the song of fools.

Like the crackling of thorns under a pot

So is the laughter of fools.

This also is vanity.

Surely oppression makes the wise foolish.

A bribe corrupts the heart.”

Qoheleth presents a reflection on life and death, like the modern philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). With his phrase Sein zum Tode, from his book Being and Time, Heidegger meant that all human beings were destined to die. It is our purpose in life to die. Therefore we must live our life now in authenticity. Qoheleth starts off by saying how important a good name is, more prized than precious ointment. Also the day of death is more important than the day of your birth. It is better to mourn than to feast. As usual, he points out that everyone will die, so that the living must be aware of that. Sorrow was better than laughter, rather than the other way around. The heart was made glad through a sad face. The truly wise mourn, while the fools live a life of mirth. Listen to the criticisms of the wise rather than the songs of fools. Foolish laughter is like burning thorns crackling on a fire since it is pure vanity and useless. Oppression makes us wiser, but bribes corrupt the heart.

The atheist is a fool (Ps 53:1-53:1)

To the choirmaster leader, according to Mahalath, a Maskil of David

“Fools say in their hearts.

‘There is no God.’

They are corrupt.

They commit abominable acts.

There is no one who does good.”

Psalm 53 is another short psalm, much like Psalm 14.  At times, they are almost word for word the same.  This title has the choirmaster leader, a maskil or song of David, but there is an additional comment about “according to Mahalath,” which is also mentioned at the beginning of Psalm 88.  Although of uncertain meaning, Mahalath was the name of a wife of Esau and Rehoboam, here it probably refers to some kind of stringed instrument like a guitar.  This first verse is exactly the same as the first verse of Psalm 14.  Once again the question is posed what if there is no God.  The answer was simple.  Only a fool would say such a thing.  There was an ancient common belief in some kind of higher power.  Actually they only say this in their hearts that there is no God, since they are practical atheists.  They act as if there is no God.  They are the corrupt people who do terrible deeds.  None of them do good deeds.

The speech of Eleazar (2 Macc 6:24-6:28)

“Eleazar said.

‘Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life.

Many of the young should suppose

That Eleazar in his ninetieth year

Has gone over to an alien religion.

Through my pretense,

For the sake of living a brief moment longer,

They should be led astray because of me.

While I defile and disgrace my old age.

Even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of mortals,

Yet whether I live or die

I will not escape the hands of the Almighty.

Therefore, by bravely giving up my life now,

I will show myself worthy of my old age.

I will leave to the young

A noble example of how

To die a good death willingly and nobly

For the revered and holy laws.’”

Much like Socrates, Eleazar gave a speech talking about an honorable death. He too was old man in his 90s. He did not have to corrupt the youth by giving the impression that he was worshiping an alien god. What was the use of doing this for a few more moments of life? Why should he disgrace his old age? Whether he lived or died, he could not escape the hands of the Almighty one. He wanted to leave a noble example of following the law for the young people. So he was willing to die for the law.