The importance of Daniel (Mt 24:15-24:15)

“When you see

The desolating sacrilege

Standing in the holy place,

As was spoken of

By the prophet Daniel,

Let the reader understand!”

 

Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω,

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:14, and in Luke, chapter 21:20, but only Matthew specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel.  Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Matthew explicitly named the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple.  In 175 BCE, the prince coming to destroy the high priest Onias III was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During this time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple.  Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols.  Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological about the end times as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly 2 centuries earlier.

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The Pharisees conspire against Jesus (Mt 12:14-12:14)

“But the Pharisees went out.

They conspired against him.

They wondered

How to destroy him.”

 

ἐξελθόντες δὲ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι συμβούλιον ἔλαβον κατ’ αὐτοῦ ὅπως αὐτὸν ἀπολέσωσιν.

 

Matthew has this episode end with the Pharisees getting together to conspire to destroy Jesus, similar to Mark, chapter 3:6, and Luke, chapter 6:11.  However the wording is a little different in the other synoptics.  Here the Pharisees went and conspired how to grab Jesus (ἐξελθόντες δὲ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι συμβούλιον ἔλαβον κατ’ αὐτοῦ).  They wondered how they could destroy or kill him (ὅπως αὐτὸν ἀπολέσωσιν).

Worry about your soul (Mt 10:28-10:28)

“Do not fear

Those who kill the body,

But cannot kill the soul.

Rather fear him

Who can destroy

Both soul

And body in hell.”

 

καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεννόντων τὸ σῶμα, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι· φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:4-5, indicating a Q source.  Jesus, via Matthew, warned his followers not to fear or be afraid of (καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε) those people who might kill their body (ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεννόντων τὸ σῶμα), but were unable to kill their soul (τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι·).  Rather they should fear or be afraid (φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον) of the people who can destroy both their soul and their body (τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι) by sending them to hell or gehenna (ἐν γεέννῃ).  The Greek word for hell “γεέννῃ” or the English gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices used to take place.

Love your enemy (Mt 5:43-5:44)

“You have heard

That it was said.

‘You shall love

Your neighbor!

You shall hate

Your enemy!’

But I say to you.

Love your enemies!

Pray for those

Who persecute you!’”

 

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου.

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς·

 

Luke has something similar to this in chapter 6:33, but Matthew is more forceful here.  Once again, Matthew begins by asking them to recall what they have heard said (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη) about loving their neighbors (Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου), based on the holiness code in Leviticus, chapter 19:18.  However, the next phrase, about hating your enemies (καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου), cannot be found in any Hebrew biblical texts.  However, the reading of the psalms, and the general attitude prior to the exile indicates that the Israelites did not generally wish well on their enemies.  They often asked Yahweh to come and destroy their enemies.  Hate was not encouraged, it was just there.  Then Matthew has this solemn strong announcement from Jesus (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν), without ambiguity.  They were to love their enemies (ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν) and even pray for those who were persecuting them (καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς).  Perhaps, many of the followers of Jesus at the time of Matthew’s writing were actually being persecuted.  In fact, the Byzantine text added here a couple of phrases to elaborate on this.  These followers of Jesus were asked to bless those cursing them (εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς καταρωμένους ὑμᾶς).  They were to do good to those who were spitefully accusing them, hating them, and persecuting them (καλῶς ποιεῖτε τοῖς μισοῦσιν ὑμᾶς, καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐπηρεαζόντων ὑμᾶς, καὶ διωκόντων ὑμᾶς).  These early Christians were asked to be generous to their enemies and persecutors.

Another dream for Joseph (Mt 2:13-2:13)

“Now after the Magi

Had left,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared to Joseph

In a dream.

He said.

‘Get up!

Take the child

With his mother!

Flee to Egypt!

Remain there

Until I tell you!

Herod is about

To search for the child.

He wants to destroy him.’”

 

Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν, ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ’ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.

 

After the magi had departed (Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν), once again, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream (ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ’ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ), just like he had before when Joseph accepted Mary as his wife in chapter 1:20-24.  This time, the angel told Joseph to get up (λέγων Ἐγερθεὶς).  He was to take his child with the child’s mother (παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ) in order to flee to Egypt (φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον), the typical place in the Old Testament, where people fled to avoid problems.  They were supposed to stay there in Egypt (ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι), until this angel of the Lord told them it was okay to return.  The main reason for this trip to Egypt, without saying a specific place, was to avoid King Herod who was trying to find and destroy Joseph’s child (μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό).  Just like the infant Moses, in Exodus, chapters 1:15-2-10, Jesus would be saved from death as an infant also.

Yahweh keeps them safe from locusts (Mal 3:11-3:11)

“‘I will rebuke

The locust

For you.

Thus,

It will not destroy

The produce

Of your soil.

Your vine

In the field

Shall not be barren.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that he was going to hold back the locusts from them.  These locusts would not destroy the products that they planted.  In fact, their vineyards would not be barren, but fruitful.

Kill the shepherd (Zech 13:7-13:9)

“‘Awake!

O sword!

Against my shepherd!

Against the man

Who is my associate!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Strike the shepherd,

That the sheep

May be scattered.

I will turn my hand

Against the little ones.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In the whole land,

Two thirds shall be cut off.

They shall perish,

One third shall be left alive.

I will put this third

Into the fire.

I will refine them

As one refines silver.

I will test them

As gold is tested.

They will call

On my name.

I will answer them.

I will say.

‘They are my people.’

They will say.

‘Yahweh is my God.’”

Yahweh of hosts wanted to take away the current leaders.  The sword should rise up against them, even if they are associated with Yahweh.  The shepherd leaders should be killed, so that the flock would be scattered.  Yahweh would destroy 2/3rd of this flock of people.  The remaining 1/3rd would have to be refined by fire, just like gold and silver were tested in a furnace.  This remaining 1/3rd remnant would be Yahweh’s people.  They would have Yahweh as their God.  Yahweh would have them as his people.