The divided kingdom (Mt 12:25-12:27)

“Jesus knew

What they were thinking.

He said to them.

‘Every kingdom divided

Against itself is

Laid waste.

No city

Or house divided against itself

Will stand.

If Satan casts out Satan,

He is divided against himself.

How then will his kingdom stand?

If I cast out demons

By Beelzebul,

By whom

Do your own sons

Cast them out?

Therefore,

They will be your judges.”

 

εἰδὼς δὲ τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πᾶσα βασιλεία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς ἐρημοῦται, καὶ πᾶσα πόλις ἢ οἰκία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς οὐ σταθήσεται.

καὶ εἰ ὁ Σατανᾶς τὸν Σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλει, ἐφ’ ἑαυτὸν ἐμερίσθη· πῶς οὖν σταθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ;

καὶ εἰ ἐγὼ ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ ἐκβάλλω τὰ δαιμόνια, οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν ἐν τίνι ἐκβάλλουσιν; διὰ τοῦτο αὐτοὶ κριταὶ ἔσονται ὑμῶν.

 

There are similar statements to this in Mark, chapter 3:23-26, and Luke, chapter 11:17-19.  Jesus responded to the Pharisees with his house divided remarks.  Jesus knew what the inner thoughts of the Pharisees were (εἰδὼς δὲ τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν).  He said to them that every kingdom divided against itself would be destroyed (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πᾶσα βασιλεία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς ἐρημοῦται).  No city or house divided against itself could endure (καὶ πᾶσα πόλις ἢ οἰκία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς οὐ σταθήσεται.).  This was one of President Abraham Lincoln’s (1809-1865) favorite biblical passages about slavery.  If Satan casts out Satan (καὶ εἰ ὁ Σατανᾶς τὸν Σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλει), then he was divided against himself (ἐφ’ ἑαυτὸν ἐμερίσθη).  How can his kingdom last (πῶς οὖν σταθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ)?  If Jesus was casting out demons by Beelzebul (καὶ εἰ ἐγὼ ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ ἐκβάλλω τὰ δαιμόνια,), how were their own sons or other exorcists able to cast out demons (οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν ἐν τίνι ἐκβάλλουσιν)?  Therefore, their own sons would be their judges (διὰ τοῦτο αὐτοὶ κριταὶ ἔσονται ὑμῶν).  This was a very strong argument against Jesus and Beelzebul working together.

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The right wineskins (Mt 9:17-9:17)

“Neither is new wine

Poured into old wineskins.

Otherwise,

The skins burst.

The wine is spilled.

The skins

Are destroyed.

But new wine

Is poured

Into fresh wineskins.

Thus,

Both are preserved.”

 

οὐδὲ βάλλουσιν οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς παλαιούς· εἰ δὲ μήγε, ῥήγνυνται οἱ ἀσκοί, καὶ ὁ οἶνος ἐκχεῖται καὶ οἱ ἀσκοὶ ἀπόλλυνται· ἀλλὰ βάλλουσιν οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινούς, καὶ ἀμφότεροι συντηροῦνται.

 

This wineskin saying is almost the same as in Mark, chapter 2:22, and Luke, chapter 5:37-38.  Jesus continued with his metaphors.  New wine should not be poured (οὐδὲ βάλλουσιν οἶνον νέον) into old wineskins or leather pouches (εἰς ἀσκοὺς παλαιούς), because they would crack.  The old wineskins would burst open (εἰ δὲ μήγε, ῥήγνυνται οἱ ἀσκοί,).  The new wine would be spilled (καὶ ὁ οἶνος ἐκχεῖται) and the skins destroyed (καὶ οἱ ἀσκοὶ ἀπόλλυνται).  New wine should be poured (ἀλλὰ βάλλουσιν οἶνον νέον) into fresh or new wineskins leather pouches (εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινούς), so that both the wine and the wineskins would be preserved (καὶ ἀμφότεροι συντηροῦνται).  Do not mix up the new with the old.

Jesus is homeless (Mt 8:20-8:20)

“Jesus said to him.

‘Foxes have holes.

Birds of the air

Have nests.

But the Son of Man

Has nowhere

To lay his head.’”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις, ὁ δὲ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ.

 

This saying of Jesus is exactly the same in Luke, chapter 9:58, indicating a possible Q source.  Jesus responded to this scribe (καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) by telling him that he was homeless.  Foxes had foxholes (Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν).  Birds of the air had nests (καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις).  However, the Son of Man (ὁ δὲ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) had nowhere to put his head (οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ).  This is the first instance of Matthew having Jesus say that he was the “Son of Man” (Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου), since this might be based on the Book of Daniel, chapter 7:13.  Daniel also saw in his night vision that the “son of man” was coming from heaven.  This Son of Man went to the Ancient One and presented himself to God.  However, he was given dominion, glory and kingship over all people, nations, and languages.  Everyone would serve him, since his kingdom would last forever, and never be destroyed.  This has been often interpreted as the coming of the Messiah, the savior.  Jesus and his disciples used this term.  However, in the Book of Ezekiel, Yahweh used this term for Ezekiel.  So that, the “Son of Man” may also mean that Jesus was trying to point out his humanity, like everyone else.

Wise men on a rock foundation (Mt 7:24-7:25)

“Everyone

Who hears

My words,

Then does them,

Will be

Like a wise man.

The wise man

Builds his house

On a rock.

The rains fell.

The floods came.

The winds blew.

They beat on that house.

But it did not fall,

Because it had been founded

On a rock.”

 

Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ ποιεῖ αὐτούς, ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ φρονίμῳ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν.

καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ οὐκ ἔπεσεν· τεθεμελίωτο γὰρ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν.

 

These verses are just like Luke, chapter 6:47-48, which might indicate a Q source.  Jesus said that everyone who heard his words (Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους) and actually did and followed them (καὶ ποιεῖ αὐτούς), were like wise men (ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ φρονίμῳ).  These wise people built a house on a rock foundation or solid rocky ground (ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν.).  The rains fell (καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ and the floods came (καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ).  Winds would blow (καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι) and beat against this house (καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ), but it did not fall (καὶ οὐκ ἔπεσεν), because it was built on a strong rock foundation (τεθεμελίωτο γὰρ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν).  This rock foundation was the words of Jesus carried out in daily life.  The fairy tale story of the 3 pigs with the brick, straw, and grass houses is similar to this saying about the stone foundation that could not be destroyed.

Jerusalem will remain (Zech 14:10-14:11)

“The whole land

Shall be turned

Into a plain

From Geba

To Rimmon,

South of Jerusalem.

But Jerusalem shall remain aloft

On its site,

From the Gate of Benjamin

To the place

Of the former gate,

To the Corner Gate.

It will remain

From the Tower of Hananel

To the king’s wine presses.

It shall be inhabited.

Never again shall it be doomed

To destruction.

Jerusalem shall abide in security.”

Although the whole land south of Jerusalem from Geba to Rimmon would be turned into a plain, Jerusalem would remain aloft from the fray, tall and strong.  Geba would be the northern boundary of Judah, about 5 miles north of Jerusalem, but actually in Benjamin.  Rimmon was the southernmost town in Judah, in the old Simeon territory, about 13 miles south of Hebron.  Jerusalem would be safe from its norther Gate of Benjamin to the wines presses in the southern part of the city.  Never again would Jerusalem be destroyed, because it would live in security.

Zechariah was impatient (Zech 11:8-11:9)

“In one month,

I disposed

Of the three shepherds.

I had become impatient

With them,

They also detested me.

Thus,

I said.

‘I will not be your shepherd.

What is to die,

Let it die!

What is to be destroyed,

Let it be destroyed.

Let those that are left

Devour the flesh

Of one another.’”

Zechariah disposed of 3 shepherds in one month.  Who were these shepherds?  They may have been local Israelite officials.  Apparently, Zechariah was not pleased with them, while they detested him, not a good working relationship.  Zechariah was not going to be their shepherd any longer.  If they were in trouble about to die, let them die.  If they were about to be destroyed, let them be destroyed.  Anyone left would probably devour each other.  Everyone for themselves.

The ruin of the powerful trees (Zech 11:1-11:3)

“Open your doors!

O Lebanon!

Thus,

The fire may devour

Your cedars!

Wail!

O cypress!

The cedar has fallen.

The glorious trees

Are ruined!

Wail!

Oaks of Bashan!

The thick forest

Has been felled!

Listen!

To the wail of the shepherds!

Their glory is despoiled!

Listen!

To the roar of the lions!

The tickets of the Jordan

Are destroyed!”

This oracle shows various strong trees as symbols of power.  Lebanon with its great cedar trees would be devoured by fire.  The glorious cypress trees would be ruined.  The oak tree forests of Bashan would be cut down.  The glory of the shepherds would be gone.  The roaring lions in the brush tickets of the Jordan River would be destroyed.  The powerful people better look out or they would become like these trees.