Blessing of the fish (Mk 8:7-8:7)

“They also had

A few small fish.

After blessing them,

Jesus ordered

That these also

Should be distributed.”

 

καὶ εἶχαν ἰχθύδια ὀλίγα· καὶ εὐλογήσας αὐτὰ εἶπεν καὶ ταῦτα παρατιθέναι.

 

This is unique to MarkMatthew, chapter 15:36 included the fish with the bread.  However, Mark treated them separately.  However, he had the similar process to that of the loaves of bread, but there was no mention of breaking the fish into small pieces.  Mark said that they also had a few small fish (καὶ εἶχαν ἰχθύδια ὀλίγα).  Jesus merely blessed them (καὶ εὐλογήσας αὐτὰ).  Then he said that these also should be distributed or set before the people there (καὶ ταῦτα παρατιθέναι).

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Fourth narrative

The fourth narrative section revealed the increasing opposition to Jesus.  Thus, his disciples had to prepare for his absence.  These instructions emphasized responsibility and humility.  Simon was renamed Peter, the rock upon which he was going to build his church, especially the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus was preaching in the various towns, John the Baptist was put in prison.  The disciples of John questioned Jesus and Jesus responded.  Jesus then asked questions about John.  Was John more than a prophet?  Then Matthew had a series of Old Testament scriptural quotations about John.  How great was John the Baptist?  Was John Elijah?

Jesus warned that this was a childish generation that was indifferent as they kept on eating and drinking, as if nothing important was happening.  Jesus was against the various Galilean cities and towns, especially Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus explained that there were hidden things from the wise ones, especially the relationship of the Father with the Son, but that the disciples had an easy yoke to bear.

Next came the question of eating on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees reacted against Jesus, but he used the example of David and the priests in the Temple to respond to them.  God was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Thus, when Jesus went into the synagogue, they asked him if he would heal anyone on the Sabbath?  Jesus compared sheep to human beings and then healed the man’s hand.  Thus, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus, while he took a low profile.

Jesus said that the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah was at hand in the servant of Yahweh.  Jesus cured the blind and mute man as the crowds were amazed.  However, the Pharisees compared Jesus to Beelzebul, the devil.  Jesus responded that a divided kingdom would not stand.  The Spirit of God was with Jesus.  The bandits tied up people before stealing from them.  You were either for or against Jesus.  They should be aware of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then issued a series of sayings about a tree and its fruit.  He compared the Pharisees to a brood of vipers.  There could be good and bad treasures.  Words would either save or condemn them.

Jesus told them about the sign for this evil generation that was always seeking signs.  He was only going to give them the sign of Jonah.  Notice how the men of Nineveh reacted.  The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon.  The unclean spirit would return with other evil spirits.  The relatives of Jesus, his mother and brothers showed up, but Jesus said that he had a new family.

Then Jesus spoke in parables siting in a boat by the sea.  There was the parable of the sower with his lost seeds, where only a few of the seeds fell on good soil.  His disciples wanted to know why he was speaking in parables, so that Jesus explained why he used parables.  Once again, he referred to a prophecy of Isaiah.  He explained about the seeds on the rocky ground and the seeds among the thorns.  Finally, he explained the meaning of the seeds on good ground or path since they were the blessed ones.

Then there was the parable about the weeds among the wheat.  The slaves let the weeds grow and then separated them at harvest time.  There were other parables about the mustard seed and the yeast.  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, but he explained these parables to his disciples, especially the sower, the field, and the seeds.  He explained the enemy and the burning of the weeds.  The punishment for the weeds came at the harvest end times.  Thus, the reward for the righteous will be at the end times.

The kingdom of heaven was like a treasure, like pearls, and like a fishing net.  Jesus explained the parables because the disciples did not understand them.  They were like new and old treasures.

Jesus was an astonishment in his own home town.  They all knew the family of Jesus.  Thus, he was a prophet without honor in his own country.

Herod thought that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, but he was afraid of John the Baptist.  At his birthday party, Herod granted the wish to have the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s disciples buried him.

Jesus was worried as he was healing the sick people.  The disciples complained about the crowds, so that Jesus told them to give them something to eat.  However, they only had five loaves and two fish.  Then Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and distributed them to the crowd.  There were even leftovers from this crowd of five thousand people.

The disciples left in a boat, so that Jesus prayed alone.  The boat was in the middle of the sea when Jesus walked on water to come to them.   Peter talked to Jesus and then attempted to walk on the water.  Jesus then saved Peter who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Then there were the healings at Gennesaret, where Jesus cured the sick.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus to ask him why his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  Jesus responded by telling them to honor their parents since there was hypocrisy in their traditions.  He cited Isaiah about vain worship.  He told them to hear and understand.  They should watch what came out of their mouth rather than what went into their mouth as defilement.  The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus called them blind guides.  Peter wanted to understand more so that Jesus explained the mouth should speak from the heart.

Jesus went to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon where he met a Canaanite woman.  He said that he was only going to the lost sheep of Israel, but this Canaanite woman persistently asked for help.  Jesus refused again saying that he could not feed the dogs.  However, she responded that dogs eat crumbs from the table.  Jesus said that she had great faith and healed her.

As Jesus healed the crowds of people in the mountain near the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion for them.  Where will they get food?  His disciples said that they had seven loaves.  Jesus then gave thanks over them and distributed the bread to four thousand men as there was a second multiplication of bread loaves.

Jesus went to Magadan.  There the Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven.  Once again, Jesus said that there are weather signs, but he would only give this evil generation the sign of Jonah.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees.  He reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith as he reminded them about the multiplication of the loaves of bread.  They should be worried about the Pharisees not food.

What was the role of Peter?  Jesus asked about the Son of Man as the disciples responded.  Then Jesus asked them about himself.  Peter gave a very positive response, so that Jesus rewarded him.  The Messianic secret was tied to the future of Jesus in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.  He would have to take up his cross if wanted to save his life because the Son of Man in his kingdom would be coming soon.

Jesus took three of his apostles up a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared with him.  Peter wanted to set up three tents for them.  A voice from the cloud came as the three apostles adored him.  Jesus asked them to be silent about this.  What was the role of Elijah and John the Baptist?

An epileptic man knelt before Jesus that his disciples were unable to heal.  Jesus then healed him, so that his disciples wondered why they were unable to heal this epileptic?  Jesus spoke about the future of the Son of Man.  Should they pay the Temple tax?  Jesus responded that the son of the king did not pay taxes, but he told Peter to pay them anyway.

Finally, we have the ecclesiastical discourse about who is the greatest.  A child is the greatest because when you welcome a little child, you welcome Jesus.  They were not to cause children to sin.  They were not to tempt people.  It would be better to be maimed and blind than suffer eternal fire.  They were not to despise the little ones.  Jesus explained the parable of the lost sheep and fraternal correction.  What were you to do with a sinning brother.  Let him become a gentile, if he does not listen.  Common prayer was important so that they should gather in his name.  How often should they forgive?  The response was the seventy times seven.

Then there was the parable of the unforgiving servant slave.  The master settled accounts with servant slaves.  One owed ten thousand talents, so that the king forgave him his debt.  However, this servant slave would not forgive the debt of his fellow slaves, who were angry.  Thus, this unforgiving slave was tortured.  This parable explanation was simple, forgive your brothers.

The defeat of the army of Nicanor (2 Macc 8:24-8:29)

“With the Almighty as their ally, Judas Maccabeus killed more than nine thousand of the enemy. They wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army. They forced them all to flee. They captured the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. After pursuing them for some distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late. It was the day before the Sabbath. For that reason they did not continue their pursuit. When they had collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils, they kept the Sabbath. They gave great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them for that day. He allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy. After the Sabbath, they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured, the widows, and the orphans. They distributed the rest among themselves and their children. When they had done this, they made common supplication. They implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants.”

This section is a little like the battles in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, but not quite the same. The leader of the army is Nicanor and Gorgias. As God Almighty was on their side, Judas and his men killed more than 9,000 of the 20,000 enemy soldiers. They also wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army, as those who were able, fled the scene. They even got the money that was going to be used to buy Jewish slaves. They had to stop pursuing them since it was the eve of the Sabbath. They then celebrated the Sabbath with great praise and thanksgiving for the Lord’s mercy to them. Then on the day after the Sabbath, they gave some, but not all, of the spoils to those who had been tortured, as well as the widows and orphans. The rest of the money they distributed it among themselves and their children. They once again prayed to the Lord so that he might be reconciled with his servants. There is no longer any mention of religious sacrifices of any kind.

The king’s army prepares to do battle (1 Macc 6:33-6:39)

“Early in the morning the king set out. He took his army by a forced march along the road to Beth-zechariah. His troops made ready for battle and sounded their trumpets. They offered their elephants the juice of grapes and mulberries to arouse them for battle. They distributed the beasts among the phalanxes. With each elephant they stationed a thousand men armed with coats of mail and with brass helmets on their heads. Five hundred picked cavalry were assigned to each beast. These took their position beforehand wherever the beast was. Wherever it went, they went with it. They never left it. On the elephants were wooden towers, strong and covered. They were fastened on each beast by a special harness. On each were four armed men who fought from there. They also had an Indian driver. The rest of the cavalry were stationed on either side, on the two flanks of the army, to harass the enemy while being themselves protected by the phalanxes. When the sun shone upon the shields of gold and brass, the hills were ablaze with them. They gleamed like flaming torches.”

King Antiochus V, the 10 year old king, or Lysias, his general got ready for the battle with Judas Maccabeus. They had elephants all juiced up and roaring to go. Each elephant had 1,000 men and 500 cavalry with them. On top of the elephants they had wooden towers fastened by a harness with 4 armed men in each tower. Beside these men there was an Indian driver of the elephant. They were an extraordinary sight so that when the sun shone on them, their shields looks like flaming torches.

The life and death of Judith (Jdt 16:21-16:25)

“After this, they all returned home to their own inheritances. Judith went to Bethulia. She remained on her estate for the rest of her life. She was honored throughout the whole country. Many desired to marry her. However, she gave herself to no man all the days of her life after her husband Manasseh died. She was gathered to his people. She became more and more famous. She grew old in her husband’s house, reaching the age of one hundred five years old. She set her maid free. She died in Bethulia. They buried her in the cave of her husband Manasseh. The house of Israel mourned her for seven days. Before she died she distributed her property to all those who were next of kin to her husband Manasseh, and to her own nearest kindred. No one ever again spread terror among the Israelites during the lifetime of Judith, or for a long time after her death.”

Judith returned to her home estate. She was honored throughout her life. A lot of men wanted to marry her, but she never remarried. She grew old gracefully as a widow until she died at the age of 105. She seemed to live like the ancient pre-historic patriarchs. She set her maid free and distributed her estate to her family and that of her late husband as set out in the Mosaic Law. There was never any mention of children. During her lifetime, no one tried to attack Israel.  So ends the saga of the saintly Judith, the general killer.

 

Judith and the women of Israel (Jdt 15:12-15:13)

“All the women of Israel gathered to see her. They blessed her. Some of them performed a dance in her honor. Judith took ivy-wreathed wands in her hands. She distributed them to the women who were with her. She, and those who were with her, crowned themselves with olive wreaths. She went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women, while all the men of Israel followed, bearing their arms, wearing garlands, and singing hymns.”

Obviously not all the women of Israel gathered to see her. Let’s just say a lot of women gathered around her. They blessed her, like everyone else. It is worth noting that this is like a woman’s only event, until the last line. Some of these women performed a dance for her. Judith has some ivy wands and gave it to the women who were with her. Then they all crowned themselves with olive wreaths. This is a clear indication that this writing was done in the Hellenistic era, because this olive wreaths was a Greek and not a Jewish custom. Then she led all the women in a dance. Notice that the women came first and then the men followed. These men of Israel danced, bore their arms, wore garlands, and sang hymns. They were showing their feminine side.