Joseph goes to Nazareth (Mt 2:23-1:23)

“There Joseph

Made his home

In a town called

Nazareth.

Thus,

What was spoken

Through the prophets

Might be fulfilled.

‘He will be called a Nazorean.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ· ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

 

Joseph took his family to a specific place in lower Galilee, a city called Nazareth (ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ). Somehow, this fulfilled a prophecy (ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν) about being called a Nazarene (ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται). Some of Jesus’ followers were called Nazarenes. He was also known as Jesus of Nazareth since this was his childhood home. People have been living in Nazareth for nearly 5.000 years, with over 75,000 people today, as the largest Arab city in Israel. Nazareth may have had a population of about 400 at the time of Jesus. The town of Nazareth is about 20 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about 6 miles west of Mount Tabor, but over 100 miles from Jerusalem. It is difficult to pinpoint where this prophecy comes from. In Judges, chapter 13:2-7, there is a comment that a boy will be a Nazirite from birth, so that no one should cut his hair. Thus, he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. According to Numbers, chapter 6:1-21, there were rules laid out for those who would take the Nazirite vows. They would not drink wine, nor shave their beards. They were not to go near a corpse. They had to bring special offerings to the Temple. This separation and special consecration may have been present among other ancient people, but here it is under Mosaic Law. The normal time period, according to some rabbinic schools, was about a month of Nazirite vows, although others may have been longer. Some have referred to John the Baptist as a Nazirite. On top of that, Jesus of Nazareth may have been confused with Jesus the Nazirite. Is that the case here?

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Restoration of the people of Israel (Am 9:13-9:15)

“Says Yahweh.

‘The time is surely coming

When the one who plows

Shall overtake

The one who reaps.

When the one who treads grapes

Shall overtake

The one who sows the seed.

The mountains shall drip

Sweet wine.

All the hills

Shall flow with it.

I will restore

The fortunes

Of my people Israel.

They shall rebuild

The ruined cities.

They shall

Inhabit them.

They shall

Plant vineyards.

They shall

Drink their wine.

They shall

Make gardens.

They shall

Eat their fruit.

I will plant them

Upon their land.

They shall never again

Be plucked up

Out of the land

That I have given them.’

Says Yahweh

Your God.”

This later oracle of Yahweh assumed that the Israelites had been taken from their land in captivity.  However, in this restoration, those plowing would be greater than those reaping.  Those who treaded the grapes would be more than those sowing the seeds.  There would be abundance and hope all around.  The mountains and hills would drip and flow with abundant sweet wine.  The Israelites would have their fortunes restored, so that they would rebuild their cities and inhabit them.  They would plant vineyards and drink wine.  They would plant gardens with lots of fruit.  These Israelites would be planted on their own land, never to be plucked away again.

The role of the prophets and the Nazirites (Am 2:11-2:12)

“I raised up

Some of your children

To be prophets.

I have raised up

Some of your young men

To be Nazirites.

Is it not indeed so?

O people of Israel?’

Says Yahweh.

‘But you made

The Nazirites

Drink wine.

You commanded

The prophets,

Saying.

‘You shall not prophesy.’”

Yahweh, via Amos, said that he had raised up some of their children and young men of Israel to be prophets and Nazirites. The Nazirites took a vow not to drink wine, as explained in Numbers, chapter 6. However, the people of Israel would have none of it. They wanted these Nazirites to drink wine and their prophets to stop prophesizing. In other words, the Israelites wanted to ignore the holy men that Yahweh had sent to them.

Darius the Mede takes over (Dan 5:31-5:31)

“Darius,

The Mede,

Received

The kingdom.

He was about

Sixty-two years old.”

There is a lot of conjecture about this Darius, the Mede. The Medes joined with the Babylonians to overthrow the Assyrians. They came under Persian power around 550 BCE. Cyrus of Persia was the real power that conquered Babylon in 539 BCE. This Darius appears to be based on Darius I (522-486 BCE), the third Persian Emperor, not a contemporary of Cyrus or Daniel. Nevertheless, this was the end of the great Babylonian empire. Thus, ends the story of the great dinner party that finished in a disaster for the king, because he had dared to drink wine from the sacred vessels of the Jerusalem Temple.

The unhumble king (Dan 5:22-5:23)

“‘You!

His son!

King Belshazzar!

Have not humbled

Your heart,

Even though

You knew all this!

You have exalted yourself

Against the Lord of heaven!

The vessels

Of his temple

Have been brought in

Before you.

You,

Your lords,

Your wives,

Your concubines,

Have been drinking wine

From them.

You have praised

The gods

Of silver

Of gold,

Of bronze,

Of iron,

Of wood,

Of stone.

They do not

See,

Hear,

Or know.

You have not honored

The God

In whose power

Is your very breath,

To whom belong

All your ways.’”

Daniel then turned to King Belshazzar himself, because he had not humbled his heart, even though he knew all about his father or grandfather. He too exalted himself against the Lord of heaven. He even took the vessels from his holy temple for his feast or party to drink wine with his lords, wives, and concubines. He even praised the false idol gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone who could not see, hear, or know anything. He did not honor the true God, who controls his life and his actions.

The king wants the sacred cups from the Jerusalem Temple (Dan 5:2-5:2)

“Under the influence

Of the wine,

King Belshazzar

Commanded

That they bring

In the vessels

Of gold,

The vessels

Of silver,

That his father,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

Had taken out

Of the temple

In Jerusalem.

Thus,

The king,

His lords,

His wives,

His concubines,

Might drink

From them.”

This King Belshazzar commanded his servants to bring the sacred gold and silver vessels that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. Here the author calls Nebuchadnezzar his father, but he was his grandfather. Thus, the king, these invited lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink wine from these sacred silver and gold cups. I am not sure if there were that many sacred vessels to accommodate a 1,000 people.

The example of the Rechabites (Jer 35:14-35:15)

“The command

Has been carried out

That Jonadab,

The son of Rechab,

Gave to his descendants,

To drink no wine.

They drink none

To this day.

They have obeyed

Their ancestor’s command.

I myself have spoken

To you persistently.

But you have not obeyed me.

I have sent to you

All my servants,

The prophets.

I am sending them persistently,

Saying.

‘Turn now every one of you

From your evil ways!

Amend your doings!

Do not go after other gods!

Do not serve them!

Then you shall live

In the land

That I gave to you,

That I gave to your ancestors.’

But you did not incline

Your ears.

You did not obey me.’”

Yahweh was upset that the Rechabites precisely followed the commands of their ancestor Jonadab up to the present day, as they refused to drink wine based on Jonadab’s command. However, the people of Judah and Jerusalem have not listened or obeyed Yahweh, even though he has continually told them to listen to his commands. They have not listened to his persistent servants, the prophets, who told them to change from their evil ways and amend their life style. They kept going to other gods to serve them. All they had to do to live in this land was to serve and obey Yahweh, something their ancestors knew about. However, they had not inclined their ears or obeyed Yahweh.