Five thousand people (Lk 9:14-9:14)

“There were

About five thousand men.

Jesus said

To his disciples.

‘Make them sit down

In groups of

About fifty each.’”

 

ἦσαν γὰρ ὡσεὶ ἄνδρες πεντακισχίλιοι. εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ Κατακλίνατε αὐτοὺς κλισίας ὡσεὶ ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα.

 

Luke said that there were about 5,000 men (ἦσαν γὰρ ὡσεὶ ἄνδρες πεντακισχίλιοι).  Jesus told his disciples (εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς) to make them sit down (Κατακλίνατε αὐτοὺς) in groups of about fifty each (κλισίας ὡσεὶ ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα).  All four gospels have the people sitting on the grass in groups that totaled about 5,000 people.  The exact details are slightly different in Matthew, chapter 14:19, Mark, chapter 6:39-41, and John, chapter 6:10, plus here.  Mark did not mention the total number of people until the end of this story.  Mark said that Jesus ordered or commanded them to get all the people to sit down or recline in groups on the green grass.  Thus, they sat down or reclined in groups of 100s and of 50s.  That is why there was an easy way to get a count of the crowd.  Have you ever tried to count a large crowd?

The crowd sits down on the grass in groups (Mk 6:39-6:40)

“Then Jesus

Ordered them

To get all the people

To sit down

In groups

On the green grass.

Thus,

They sat down

In groups

Of hundreds

And of fifties.”

 

καὶ ἐπέταξεν αὐτοῖς ἀνακλιθῆναι πάντας συμπόσια συμπόσια ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ.

καὶ ἀνέπεσαν πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ κατὰ ἑκατὸν καὶ κατὰ πεντήκοντα.

 

All four gospels have the people sitting on the grass in groups that totaled about 5,000 people.  The exact details are slightly different in Matthew, chapter 14:19, Luke, chapter 9:14, and John, chapter 6:10, plus here.  Mark does not mention the total number of people until the end of this story.  Mark said that Jesus ordered or commanded them (καὶ ἐπέταξεν αὐτοῖς) to get all the people to sit down or recline in groups (ἀνακλιθῆναι πάντας συμπόσια συμπόσια) on the green grass (ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ).  Thus, they sat down or reclined in groups (καὶ ἀνέπεσαν πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ) of hundreds (κατὰ ἑκατὸν) and of fifties (καὶ κατὰ πεντήκοντα).  That is why there was an easy way to get a count of the crowd.

Future problems for the king of Assyria (Isa 10:16-10:19)

“Therefore the Sovereign,

Yahweh of hosts,

Will send

A wasting sickness

Among his stout warriors.

Under his glory

A burning will be kindled,

Like the burning of a fire.

The light of Israel

Will become a fire.

His Holy One

Will be a flame.

It will burn his thorns.

It will devour his briers in one day.

Yahweh will destroy

The glory of his forest.

Yahweh will destroy

The glory of his fruitful land,

Both soul and body.

It will be as

When an invalid wastes away.

The remnant of the trees

Of his forest

Will be so few

That a child

Can write them down.”

Isaiah predicts the devastation of the army and land of the king of Assyria. Yahweh was going to send a wasting sickness among his warriors. This maybe an allusion to 2 Kings, chapter 19, when 185,000 Assyrian troops died. The light of Israel will become a raging flame starting a great fire that will destroy and devour the thorns and briers of Assyria itself. Yahweh will destroy the forests and the fruitful land with a wild fire, so that both their bodies and souls will be destroyed. There will be so few trees left, so that a mere child can count and write the number down.

The mystery of wisdom (Sir 1:1-1:10)

“All wisdom is from the Lord.

It remains forever with him.

Who can count?

The sand of the sea?

The drops of rain?

The days of eternity?

Who can search them out?

The height of heaven?

The breadth of the earth?

The abyss?

Wisdom?

Wisdom was created before all other things.

Prudent understanding is from eternity.

To whom has it been revealed

The root of wisdom?

Who knows her subtleties?

There is but one who is wise.

He is greatly to be feared.

He is seated upon his throne.

The Lord!

It is he who created her.

He saw her.

He took her measure.

He poured her out upon all his works.

He poured her out upon all the living.

According to his gift,

He lavished her upon

Those who love him.”

This author Sirach starts his work like the beginning of Proverbs with the insistence that all wisdom comes from the Lord. Since this is a Greek translation, the normally tendency was to translate Yahweh or God as Lord, Κυρίος. There is also a minor problem with the numbering of verses. However, no one can count the amount of sand in the sea, the drops of rain, or the days of eternity. No one can tell you how high heaven is, or the width of earth, or the depth of the sea abyss, or about wisdom itself. Wisdom was the first thing created, even though there is no explicit mention of this in Genesis. Understanding is from eternity. No one knows the subtleties of wisdom. The Lord, who sits on his throne, is truly wise and needs to be feared. He created wisdom and poured her out on all his works, including all the living things. Those who love him will receive wisdom.

The reaction to the death of the first born (Wis 18:10-18:13)

“The discordant cry of their enemies

Echoed back.

Their piteous lament for their children

Was spread abroad.

The slave was punished

With the same penalty as the master.

The commoner suffered

The same loss as the king.

They suffered all together,

By the one form of death.

They had corpses too many to count.

The living were not sufficient

Even to bury them.

In one instant,

Their most valued children

Had been destroyed.

Even though they had disbelieved everything

Because of their magic arts,

Yet when their first-borns were destroyed,

They acknowledged your people

To be God’s child.”

After this deadly event, the Egyptians were upset. Here there seems to be sense of the horrific action here that took place that was not present in the original Exodus story. The cries of these parents echoed throughout the land. Their lament went throughout the world. Every first born child in Egypt had been killed. It did not matter whether they were slave or master, king or common person. They all suffered the same with their dead children. There were too many corpses to count and not enough people to bury the dead. These precious children had been killed. On the positive side, these disbelievers (ἀπιστοῦντες), who just had their children killed, acknowledged that the Israelites were God’s children or sons (Θεοῦ υἱὸν λαὸν εἶναι).

The wise Qoheleth (Eccl 1:15-1:18)

“‘What is crooked cannot be made straight.

What is lacking cannot be counted.’

I said to myself.

‘I have acquired great wisdom.            

My wisdom surpasses all

Who were over Jerusalem before me.

My mind has had great experience of wisdom.

My mind has had great experience of knowledge.

I applied my mind to know wisdom.

I applied my mind to know madness.

I applied my mind to know folly.

I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.

In much wisdom

Is much vexation.

Those who increases knowledge

Increase sorrow.’”

This book once again has the first person singular of Qoheleth speaking. He points out, quite correctly, that the crooked cannot be made straight. However, you can come close. On the other hand, there is no doubt that you cannot count something that is not there. Then Qoheleth gets quite personal. He explains that he has great wisdom and knowledge, greater than anyone whoever was in Jerusalem before him. He knows the difference between wisdom, madness, and folly. In a kind of reversal of the Proverbs, he seems to imply that that with all this wisdom, he is still like chasing after the wind. More problems and vexation come with wisdom. There is an increase in sorrow that comes with more knowledge. Wisdom is not the be all and end all like in Proverbs.

Praise for God (Ps 56:8-56:11)

“You have kept count of my tossings.

Put my tears in your bottle!

Are they not in your record?

Then my enemies will retreat,

In the day when I call.

This I know,

That God is for me.

In God,

Whose word I praise.

In Yahweh,

Whose word I praise.

In God,

I trust.

I am not afraid.

What can a mere mortal do to me?”

God knew about the situation of David.  He had gathered the tears of David and kept a record of it.  His enemies would retreat if David were to call on God.  He was sure of himself because God was on his side.  He praised God.  He praised Yahweh.  He trusted in God.  Thus he was not afraid of mere mortals?