The brother’s wife (Mk 12:19-12:19)

“‘Teacher!

Moses wrote

For us

That if a man’s brother

Dies,

Leaving a wife,

But no child,

The man shall

Marry the widow

And raise up children

For his brother.’”

 

Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον, ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.  

 

Matthew, chapter 22:24, and Luke, chapter 20:28, are almost word for word as here in MarkMark said that these Sadducees addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).”  These Sadducees quoted a Mosaic text that Moses had written for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν), from Deuteronomy, chapter 25:5-10.  If a man’s brother should die (ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ) leaving behind a wife (καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα) without any children (καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον), his living brother should take his dead brother’s widow as his wife (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα).  He would then raise up the descendant children or seeds for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  This levirate law goes back as far as Tamar in Genesis, chapter 38:1-30, with the story of Judah’s 3 sons and Tamar, the original wife of Er.  The brother of the deceased was supposed to marry his brother’s widow if he had no sons.  The widow was not to marry outside her family.  It also assumes that the brother lived close by or in the same house as his brother.  There was no indication of whether the brother was married or not, but this seems to assume a younger brother.  This was an attempt to prolong the heritage and name of a person, which was common in ancient times.  The punishment for the brother’s refusal was an insult rather than any physical punishment.

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The son replaces the father (Sir 30:4-30:6)

“When the father dies,

He will not seem to be dead.

Because he has left behind him

One like himself.

While alive

He was looked upon

With joy.

At death,

There is no grief.

He has left behind him

An avenger

Against his enemies.

He has left behind him

One to repay

The kindness of his friends.”

When the father dies, it will not seem like he died, since his son will be like him. Although there was rejoicing in life, there is no grief at death. His son will be an avenger of his enemies and be kind to his friends. Once again Sirach has this repeated theme of friends and enemies.

The importance of wisdom (Eccl 2:12-2:14)

“So I turned to consider wisdom.

I considered madness.

I considered folly.

What can one do

Who comes after the king?

Only what has already been done.

Then I saw that wisdom excels folly

As light excels darkness.

‘The wise have eyes in their head.

But fools walk in darkness.’”

Now Qoheleth considered, wisdom, madness, and folly again. What happens when a king dies? The next king will pretty much do what the preceding king had done. Finally, he saw the light. He realized that wisdom exceeds folly just like light exceeds darkness. Wisdom is light while folly is darkness. This picks up the main theme of Proverbs again. The wise have eyes in their head, but the fools are blind, walking in darkness.

The dominion of Yahweh (Ps 22:29-22:31)

“To him, indeed!

Shall all who sleep in the earth bow down.

Before him

Shall bow all who go down to the dust.

I shall live for him.

Posterity will serve him.

Future generations will be told about Yahweh.

They will proclaim his deliverance

To a people yet unborn.

They will say that he has done it.”

This psalm ends with everyone on earth who goes to sleep bowing down to Yahweh. Anyone who lives or dies will bow down to Yahweh. David or the psalmist will live for Yahweh. Also posterity and future generations will learn about Yahweh and serve him. They will proclaim his deliverance to each new generation, even to those not yet born. They will tell about all that he has done.