Zechariah on duty (Lk 1:8-1:8)

“Zechariah

Was serving

As a priest

Before God,

Because his section

Was on duty.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ ἱερατεύειν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ τάξει τῆς ἐφημερίας αὐτοῦ ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ,

 

Having described Zechariah and his wife, Luke turned to the action around Zechariah.  This happened (Ἐγένετο) as he was serving as the priest (δὲ ἐν τῷ ἱερατεύειν αὐτὸν) before God (ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ).  His section or division of Levite priests were on duty (ἐν τῇ τάξει τῆς ἐφημερίας αὐτοῦ).  Apparently, his group of Abijah priests served for 2 weeks at the Temple each year.  Not bad, instead of 2 weeks off for vacation, they served for only 2 weeks a year, since there were 24 groups of priests with various tasks.

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They divided his garments (Mk 15:24-15:24)

“They crucified him.

They divided

His clothes

Among themselves.

They cast lots

To decide

What each should take.”

 

καὶ σταυροῦσιν αὐτὸν, καὶ διαμερίζονται τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντες κλῆρον ἐπ’ αὐτὰ τίς τί ἄρῃ.

 

The first verse is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 27:35.  Luke, chapter 23:34, mentioned the dividing of Jesus’ garments by chance.  John, chapter 19:23-25, has a longer detailed description about the division of the garments of JesusThe first cinemascope movie in 1953 was called the “The Robe,” based on a 1942 novel with the same name that got its inspiration from this biblical passage.  Mark said that they crucified Jesus (καὶ σταυροῦσιν αὐτὸν).  Then they divided his garments or clothes among themselves (καὶ διαμερίζονται τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ), by casting lots for them (βάλλοντες κλῆρον ἐπ’ αὐτὰ).  That is how they decided what each person would take for themselves (τίς τί ἄρῃ), which was a common practice among the Roman soldiers.

Peace or the sword (Mt 10:34-10:34)

“Do not think

That I have come

To bring peace

To the earth.

I have not come

To bring peace,

But a sword.”

 

Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:51, indicating a Q source.  Luke said that Jesus had come to bring division, not a sword, like here.  Jesus was a disrupter.  They should not think (Μὴ νομίσητε) that Jesus has come to bring peace on earth (ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).  He has not come to bring peace (οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην), but quite the opposite, to bring the sword (ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν), much like the Old Testament Hebrew prophets, especially Ezekiel, chapter 38:21.  The sword meant war not peace.  Jesus was not a peacemaker, but a sign of contraction.

Oracle about the mighty nation (Isa 18:1-18:2)

“O land of whirring wings!

Beyond the rivers of Ethiopia!

They send ambassadors

By the Nile River

In vessels of papyrus

On the waters.

Go!

You swift messengers!

Go to a tall nation!

Go to a smooth nation!

Go to a people

Feared near and far!

Go to a mighty nation!

Go to a conquering nation!

Go to a nation

Whose land the rivers divide!”

Quite often Egypt and Ethiopia were united together. The older name of Ethiopia was Kush, one of the older sons of Ham, the son of Noah. Thus there was some relationship with them. Here it seems that they have swift ambassadors that use papyrus paper like vessels to deliver messages. The reference to a tall, smooth, mighty, and conquering nation could be Egypt, since there is a division between Ethiopia and Egypt.