Forgiveness (Lk 17:4-17:4)

“If the same person

Sins against you

Seven times

A day,

Yet turns back

To you

Seven times,

And says.

‘I repent!’

You must forgive!”

 

καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ λέγων Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that if the same person sinned against you (ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ) 7 times a day (καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας), yet turned back to you 7 times (καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ), and said that he repented (Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ), you must still forgive him (ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ).  There is something like this saying in Matthew, chapter 18:21-22, although there was no mention of Peter here in LukeMatthew indicated that Peter took on a specific leadership role.  He wanted to know how many times he should forgive his brother’s sins?  Peter wanted to know how often he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him (ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ).  Peter thought that 7 would be a good number.  Was 7 times enough (ἕως ἑπτάκις)?  Most Jewish people had forgiven offenses 3 times.  3 strikes and you were out.  Peter seemed overly generous in his attempts at forgiveness.  Jesus surprised Peter with a solemn declaration (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦ) by telling him to forgive his brother’s sins not just 7 times (Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις) but 490 times, 7*70 (ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά).  However, this saying about 7*70 was unique to Matthew, who was the only one who ever used this number ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά in the New Testament literature.  This number, nevertheless, could be found in Genesis, chapter 4:24 when Cain and Lamech were talking about violent revenge.  Lamech wanted his vengeance 7*70.  Was this number an attempt to indicate infinity before we had that term?  490 seems overly generous in any circumstances.  However, here in Luke, it might be even more since forgiveness was expected 7 times each day.  How many times do you forgive people?

 

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Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan 14:31-14:32)

“They threw Daniel

Into the lions’ den.

He was there

For six days.

There were seven lions

In the den.

Every day,

They had been given

Two human bodies,

With two sheep.

But now

They were given nothing.

Thus,

They would devour Daniel.”

Once again, Daniel is in the lion’s den as in chapter 6 of this book. This time, the duration is 6 days, instead of one night. There was an explicit mention of 7 lions in the den, instead of the earlier vague den of lions. Normally, these lions feasted on 2 human bodies and 2 sheep each day. During the time that Daniel was there, they were not given their normal diet, so that they might want to eat Daniel.

The seven days of sin offerings (Ezek 43:25-43:27)

“‘For seven days,

You shall provide daily

A goat

For a sin offering.

Also,

A bull

With a ram

From the flock,

Without blemish,

Shall be provided.

Seven days

Shall they make atonement

For the altar.

They will cleanse it.

They will so consecrate it.

When these days

Are over,

Then from the eighth day

Onward,

The priests shall offer

Upon the altar

Your burnt offerings

With your peace offerings.

Then I will accept you.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh gave Ezekiel this first week of instructions about the altar. During this week, each day they had to provide an unblemished goat, bull, and ram from their flock. During these 7 days, they were to make atonement for the altar, by cleansing and consecrating it. After these 7 days were over, the priests would then be able to offer their burnt offerings and peace offerings on this altar at any time.  Yahweh said that he would then accept these offerings.