The curse on Chorazin and Bethsaida (Lk 10:13-10:13)

“Woe to you!

Chorazin!

Woe to you!

Bethsaida!

If the deeds

Of power

Done in you

Had been done

In Tyre

And Sidon,

They would have repented

Long ago,

Wearing sackcloth

And sitting in ashes.”

 

Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν, οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν, πάλαι ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι μετενόησαν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that both Chorazin (Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν) and Bethsaida (οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά) should be cursed.  Jesus said that if the deeds of power or the miracles done among them would have had been done (ὅτι εἰ…ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν) in Tyre (ἐν Τύρῳ) and Sidon (καὶ Σιδῶνι), they would have repented or had a change of heart (μετενόησαν) long ago (πάλαι), wearing sackcloth (ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ) and sitting in ashes (καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι).  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 11:20-21, indicating a possible common Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus denounced or reproached these various Galilean towns where he had worked his powerful miracles of healing and curing.  Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways.  Jesus complained about two particular towns, Chorazin (Χοραζείν), that was about 3 miles north of Capernaum, and Bethsaida (Βηθσαϊδάν), about 5 miles north of Capernaum on the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee.  All these towns were fairly close together.  Jesus’ reproach started with a typical prophetic curse of “woe to you” (Οὐαί σοι), especially used by Isaiah.  Jesus also mentioned the Phoenician Mediterranean cities of Tyre and Sidon that Isaiah, chapter 23:1-12, and many of the other prophets had wailed against.  Jesus said that if these same miraculous deeds had taken place in these two coastal cities, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes, something that Chorazin and Bethsaida had not done.  What kind of town do you live in?

Woe to the rich! (Lk 6:24-6:24)

“But woe to you

Who are rich!

You have received

Your consolation.”

 

Πλὴν οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς πλουσίοις, ὅτι ἀπέχετε τὴν παράκλησιν ὑμῶν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said the rich people should be cursed (Πλὴν οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς πλουσίοις), using the second person plural.  They already had received their consolation, comfort, or happiness (ὅτι ἀπέχετε τὴν παράκλησιν ὑμῶν).  While Matthew had 8 beatitudes about the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the righteous, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted, Luke only had 4.  The blessed or fortunate ones here were the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the. persecuted.  3 of the 4 of these categories are almost the same, but the hungry could only go with those who hunger for righteousness.  Some later 4th century Christian writers, like Ambrose of Milan (337-397), have said that theses 4 beatitudes correspond to the 4 cardinal virtues of temperance, justice, prudence, and fortitude.  However, Luke uniquely has these 4 more woes or curses in which he denounced or called out their bad behavior.  In this particular case, he challenged or criticized the rich people because they already had their consolation.

Marcion canon (140 CE)

One of the earliest attempts at solidifying a Christian canon or list of books was made by Marcion of Sinope (85-160 CE).  He rejected the Hebrew Scriptures, so that other Christian leaders denounced him.  Thus, he was excommunicated from the proto-orthodox Christian Church community.  However, he was the first to publish his own list of New Testament books around the year 140 CE, that included 10 letters of Paul and the Gospel of Luke.

Job wants assurances from God (Job 17:3-17:5)

“Lay down a pledge for me with yourself.

Who is there that will give surety for me?

Since you have closed their minds to understanding,

Therefore, you will not let them triumph.

Those who denounce friends for a reward,

May the eyes of their children fail!

Job wanted assurances from God, a pledge. Who was going to bail him out or give him surety out of this situation? Since God had closed the minds of those around him, he did not want them to triumph. Anyone who denounced friends for a reward should have blind children. This was some kind of ancient proverb. Job, despite his despair, was not going to take this lying down.

The tragic suicide death of Razis (2 Macc 14:37-14:46)

“A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots. He was very well thought of. For his good will, he was called father of the Jews. In former times, when there was no mingling with the gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism. He had most zealously risked body and life for Judaism. Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity which he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him. He thought that by arresting him, he would do them an injury. When the troops were about to capture the tower, they forced the door of the courtyard. They ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis fell upon his own sword. He preferred to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly. The crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He courageously ran up on the wall. He bravely threw himself down into the crowd. But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space. Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose up. Although his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe, he ran through the crowd. Standing upon a steep rock, with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails. He took them with both hands and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.”

Wow, what a gruesome description of the death of Razis! Razis was a well respected Jewish elder, sometimes referred to as the father of the Jews. He was accused of Judaism because he would not mingle with the gentiles. Nicanor wanted to make an example of him so he sent 500 troops to arrest him. So far this does not sound outlandish. Then when they got to his house, they decided to set fire to his door to get in. Then Razis was surrounded and decided to kill himself with a sword, a common Roman practice, rather than die in disgrace. However, in the heat of the excitement with the 500 troops running at him, he somehow missed killing himself but merely cut himself. So Razis ran to the top of the wall. He wanted to hurl himself into the crowd, but they stepped back and he fell into an empty space. Now as he was angry and still alive, he ran through the crowd of troops until he got to a sharp rock. The blood was gushing out all over the place. Somehow he tore out his own intestines and threw them at the crowd. This was some weird scene. Here then is the main point. He cried to the Lord of life to give them back to him. Of course, he died. Somehow this father of Judaism believed that his intestines would be restored in some kind of afterlife, a resurrection. This is one of the few times that we have a Jewish attempted suicide.