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?

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Old Anna lived in the Temple (Lk 2:37-2:37)

“Then Anna lived

As a widow

To the age of eighty-four.

She never left

The Temple.

She worshiped there

With fasting

And prayer,

Night and day.”

 

καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων, ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν.

 

Next Luke spoke about how this old female prophet, Anna was a widow, living in the Temple, worshiping and fasting day and night.  Thus, she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four (καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων).  She never left the Temple (ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ).  She worshiped or served there with fasting and prayer (νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα), night and day (νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν).  She was a very devout old Jewish lady.  Once again, Luke indicated that she was a widow that did not remarry, but dedicated herself to the Temple worship.

The Christmas scene birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7-2:7)

“Mary gave birth

To her first-born son.

She wrapped him

In bands

Of swaddling cloths.

She laid him

In a manger,

Because there was

No place

For them

In the inn.”

 

καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

 

Luke explained in great detail about the birth of Jesus, his clothing, and the manger, that has become the famous Christmas scene that most have come to know and love.  Matthew, chapter 2:1, had no details like this in his story about the birth of Jesus, while Mark and John had no infancy narratives at all.  In fact, Matthew said that the Magi visited Mary and the child in a house in chapter 2:11, not a manger.  Luke reported that Mary gave birth to her first-born son (καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον).  Did that imply that there were other children?  Within the Jewish tradition, the first-born male child would be dedicated to God with special legal and family rights, as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:2, where Yahweh got the first-born of everything, as a consecration to God.  In Numbers, chapter 3:12, the Levites take the place of the first born as a dedication to God.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 21:17, the first born had all the rights versus the other children.  Mary wrapped the baby Jesus with bands of cloth or swaddling clothes (καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν), as it is often called.  These tight bands of cloth kept the arms and legs of the newborn from wailing away, while also keeping the child warm.  Then Mary laid him in a manger (καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ), because there was no place for them in the lodging inn (διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι).  This manger (ἐν φάτνῃ) was a feeding trough for horses and cattle.  Thus, Jesus was born in a place where animals would feed.  He then would offer himself as the bread of life.  Apparently, they were in a barn because there were no appropriate lodging places for a pregnant expecting woman.  There was no indication that Joseph had other relatives in Bethlehem where they might stay.  Just by coincidence, I am posting this blog on December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve.

The prayer of Mary (Lk 1:46-1:46)

“Mary said.

‘My soul

Magnifies

The Lord!’”

 

Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον,

 

Next Luke has a series of canticles or songs.  This first canticle of Mary is modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:1-10, that praised Yahweh. Hannah had prayed for a son.  Thus, she had a semi-miracle son called Samuel.  She wanted him to be dedicated like a Nazirite.  This prayer of Hannah took place after she had dedicated her 3-year-old son to Yahweh.  Thus, Samuel grew up with the prophet Eli.  Hannah and Samuel then became the prototypes for Mary and Jesus.  Luke indicated that Mary said (Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ) that her soul magnified, extended, or enlarged the Lord (ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον).  Thus, this Marian canticle became known as the “Magnificat,” after the Latin translated word used here.

The moaning and mourning in Moab (Jer 48:36-48:37)

“Therefore my heart

Moans for Moab,

Like a flute.

My heart moans

Like a flute

For the people

Of Kir-heres.

The riches

That they had gained,

Has perished.

Every head

Is shaved.

Every beard

Is cut off.

On all the hands,

There are gashes.

On the loins,

There are sack cloths.”

Yahweh’s heart moans for Moab like a flute. The same is true of the people of Kir-heres, a major city in Moab, dedicated to the sun. All the richness that Moab had attained has now perished. Their heads are shaven and their beards are cut off. Their hands are all gashed, as they are also wearing sackcloth. These were all the signs of someone in mourning.

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.

The scribes (Sir 39:1-39:5)

“How different is

The one who devotes himself

To the study

Of the law of the Most High.

He seeks out the wisdom

Of all the ancients.

He is concerned with prophecies.

He preserves the sayings

Of the famous.

He penetrates the subtleties

Of the parables.

He seeks out the hidden meanings

Of proverbs.

He is at home

With the obscurities of parables.

He serves among the great men.

He appears before rulers.

He travels in foreign lands.

He learns what is good and evil

In the human lot.

He sets his heart to rise early.

He seeks the Lord who made him.

He petitions the Most High.

He opens his mouth in prayer.

He asks pardon for his sins.”

Sirach is more interested in the scholarly scribes. This seems like a defense of his own life, and what he is doing. He devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High God. He seeks the wisdom of the ancients and the current prophecies. He preserves the ancient sayings or writings. He penetrates and finds the hidden meanings of the parables and the proverbs. He serves among and appears before the rulers. He even travels in foreign lands so that he can learn about good and evil among all humans. He rises early to seek the Lord. He prays with petitions and penitence to the Most High God. In other words, he is a great righteous man, fully dedicated to the law of God and living it out in his daily life. He is Sirach!