Converts (Mt 23:15-23:15)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You cross the sea.

You cross the dry land

To make a single convert.

You make

The new convert

Twice as much

A child of hell

As yourselves.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι περιάγετε τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὴν ξηρὰν ποιῆσαι ἕνα προσήλυτον, καὶ ὅταν γένηται, ποιεῖτε αὐτὸν υἱὸν γεέννης διπλότερον ὑμῶν.

 

This first part of the opening verse is exactly the same as the preceding verse in this unique saying of Matthew.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  These Pharisees were trying to convert many of the Romans to Judaism.  They would cross seas and dry lands trying to make a single convert or proselyte (ὅτι περιάγετε τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὴν ξηρὰν ποιῆσαι ἕνα προσήλυτον).  However, in doing so (καὶ ὅταν γένηται), they had made these new converts to Pharisaic Judaism twice as much a child of Gehenna or hell as themselves (ποιεῖτε αὐτὸν υἱὸν γεέννης διπλότερον ὑμῶν).

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Yahweh gets Jonah out of the fish (Jon 2:10-2:10)

“Then Yahweh spoke

To the fish.

It spewed Jonah out

Upon the dry land.”

Then Yahweh told the big fish to vomit out Jonah near dry land.  The big fish was very accommodating.  He gave up Jonah on a river bank of dry land.  Thus, ended the adventure of Jonah in the belly of the big fish.  Clearly, this was a time of prayer for Jonah as he realized his failure to respond the first time.

God of water (Isa 41:17-41:18)

“When the poor seek water,

When the needy seek water,

There is none.

Their tongues

Are parched with thirst.

I!

Yahweh!

Will answer them!

I!

The God of Israel!

Will not forsake them!

I will open rivers

on the bare trails!

I will open fountains

In the midst of the valleys!

I will make the wilderness

A pool of water!

I will make

The dry land springs of water!”

Yahweh, maintaining the first person singular in Second Isaiah, says that he will provide water for the thirsty poor people and the parched needy ones. He would not forget them, but he would answer them. He will open up rivers on the bare trails. He will open up fountains of water in the valleys. In fact, he will make the great desert wilderness like a pool of water. There will be springs of water where there was a dry land area. Don’t worry about water! Yahweh will take care of things.

The blessings of the Lord (Sir 39:22-39:27)

“His blessing covers the dry land

Like a river.

His blessing drenches it

Like a flood.

But his wrath drives out

The nations.

He has turned a watered land

Into salt.

To the faithful,

His ways are straight.

But they are full of pitfalls

For the wicked.

From the beginning,

Good things were created

For the good.

But for the sinners,

Bad things.

The basic necessities of human life are

Water,

Fire,

Iron,

Salt,

Wheat flour,

Milk,

Honey,

The blood of the grape,

Oil,

And clothing.

All these are good

For the godly.

But for the sinners,

They turn into evils.”

Sirach remarks that the Lord’s blessing is a like a river on dry land or a drenching flood. However, he drives out countries with his wrath, as he has turned watered land into salt. The ways of the faithful are straight, but the wicked have all kinds of obstacles that they fall into. God created the good things, but the sinners get bad things. Then Sirach explained the basic necessities of life. I wonder if we would name all the same stuff. He had water, fire, iron, salt, wheat flour, milk, honey, grapes, oil, and clothing. These were good for the godly but evil for the sinners. In other words, you attitude towards them made them either good or bad.

The marvelous Red Sea experience (Wis 19:6-19:9)

“The whole creation

In its nature

Was fashioned anew.

It complies with your commands.

Thus your children might be kept unharmed.

The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp.

Dry land emerged

Where water had stood before.

There was an unhindered way

Out of the Red Sea.

There was a grassy plain

Out of the raging waves.

Those protected by your hand

They passed through as one nation.

After gazing on marvelous wonders.

They ranged like horses.

They leaped like lambs.

They praised you.

O Lord!

You delivered them.”

Creation itself helped the righteous Israelites as they complied with the commands of God to help his children (σοὶ παῖδες). There was a cloud (παρεμβολὴν) over the camp. Dry land emerged from the Red Sea (ἐρυθρᾶς θαλάσσης) as in Exodus, chapter 13. Here there is an explicit mention of the Red Sea as they passed through a grassy plain in the middle of the raging waters. God’s hand (χειρί) protected them as they passed through the Red Sea together like horses and lambs. They praised the Lord (Κύριε) for their deliverance.

God is a protector of widows and orphans (Ps 68:5-68:6)

“God is the father of orphans.

God is the protector of widows.

God is in his holy habitation.

God gives the desolate a home to live in.

God leads out the prisoners to prosperity.

However the rebellious live in a parched land.”

God is the father of orphans. He protects widows from his holy dwelling. He gives the desolate a home to live in. He leads the prisoners into prosperity. However, the rebellious ones will have to live in a parched dry land.

The power of God (Ps 66:5-66:7)

“Come and see

What God has done.

He is awesome in his deeds among mortals.

He turned the sea into dry land.

They passed through the river on foot.

There we rejoiced in him.

He rules by his might forever.

His eyes keep watch on the nations.

Let the rebellious not exalt themselves.”

Selah

Come and see the power of God and what he has done. He is awesome! Among the mortals he turned the sea to dry land, as the crossing of the Red Sea dominates among the powers of God. They were able to pass through the sea as if on dry land. Of course, the sons of Israel rejoiced because his rule is forever. He keeps an eye on all the nations, so that any rebellious group ought to be careful. Once again, this section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause, the Selah.