The curse on Chorazin and Bethsaida (Lk 10:13-10:13)

“Woe to you!

Chorazin!

Woe to you!

Bethsaida!

If the deeds

Of power

Done in you

Had been done

In Tyre

And Sidon,

They would have repented

Long ago,

Wearing sackcloth

And sitting in ashes.”

 

Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν, οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν, πάλαι ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι μετενόησαν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that both Chorazin (Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν) and Bethsaida (οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά) should be cursed.  Jesus said that if the deeds of power or the miracles done among them would have had been done (ὅτι εἰ…ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν) in Tyre (ἐν Τύρῳ) and Sidon (καὶ Σιδῶνι), they would have repented or had a change of heart (μετενόησαν) long ago (πάλαι), wearing sackcloth (ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ) and sitting in ashes (καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι).  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 11:20-21, indicating a possible common Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus denounced or reproached these various Galilean towns where he had worked his powerful miracles of healing and curing.  Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways.  Jesus complained about two particular towns, Chorazin (Χοραζείν), that was about 3 miles north of Capernaum, and Bethsaida (Βηθσαϊδάν), about 5 miles north of Capernaum on the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee.  All these towns were fairly close together.  Jesus’ reproach started with a typical prophetic curse of “woe to you” (Οὐαί σοι), especially used by Isaiah.  Jesus also mentioned the Phoenician Mediterranean cities of Tyre and Sidon that Isaiah, chapter 23:1-12, and many of the other prophets had wailed against.  Jesus said that if these same miraculous deeds had taken place in these two coastal cities, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes, something that Chorazin and Bethsaida had not done.  What kind of town do you live in?

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Preaching against the various towns (Mt 11:20-11:20)

“Then he began

To reproach

The cities

In which most

Of his deeds of power

Had been done.

Because they did not repent.”

 

Τότε ἤρξατο ὀνειδίζειν τὰς πόλεις ἐν αἷς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐ μετενόησαν·

 

These introductory comments against the various Galilean towns are unique to Matthew.  Jesus started to denounce or reproach the various towns (Τότε ἤρξατο ὀνειδίζειν τὰς πόλεις) where he had worked his powerful miracles (πόλεις ἐν αἷς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ) of healing and curing.  However, in those towns, they did not repent (ὅτι οὐ μετενόησαν).  Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways.

The nets of the enemy (Hab 1:14-1:17)

“You have made people

Like the fish of the sea,

Like crawling things

That have no ruler.

The enemy brings

All of them up

With a hook.

He drags them out,

With his net.

He gathers them

In his seine.

Thus,

He rejoices.

He exults.

Therefore,

He sacrifices

To his net.

He makes sacrifices

To his seine.

His portion is lavish

By them.

His food is rich.

Is he then to keep on

Emptying his net?

Will he keep destroying nations

Without mercy?”

This enemy would keep devouring the people.  Yahweh has made people like fish in the sea, since they have no ruler, much like crawling things.  Thus, this enemy has a hook with a net.  He has dragged the people out of the sea, as if they were fish in a net.  He has gathered them in his seine, which is a great big net.  Thus, this enemy is happy and exulted about his big catch of humans, much like a proud fisherman.  Then, this enemy would sacrifice offerings to his big nets, because they have contributed to his lavish life style with rich food.  He has become wealthy by catching all these humans in his big fish nets.  Thus, he kept emptying his nets and catching more humans in them.  He continued to destroy nations and countries without any mercy for anyone.  His evil ways just went on and on.

No more idol worship (Ezek 37:23-37:23)

“They shall never again

Defile themselves

With their idols,

With their detestable things,

Or with any

Of their transgressions.

But I will save them

From all the apostasies

Into which they have fallen.

I will cleanse them.

They shall be

My people.

I will be their God.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, laid down the law. There was to be no more idol worship. They were never again to defile themselves with all these detestable things. There would be no more transgressions. Yahweh was going to save them from the various evil ways or apostasies that they had fallen into. Yahweh was going to cleanse them. Thus, they might be truly his people. Yahweh was going to be their God. There would not be any questions about this.

Remember your evil ways (Ezek 20:43-20:44)

“‘There you shall remember

Your ways.

There you shall remember

All the deeds

By which

You have polluted yourselves.

You shall loathe yourselves

For all the evils

That you have committed.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh,

When I deal

With you

For my name’s sake.

I will deal with you

Not according

To your evil ways,

Not according

To your corrupt doings.

O house of Israel!’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh told the house of Israel that they should remember their evil ways and wicked deeds. They had polluted themselves. Now they should loathe themselves for all the evils that they had committed. They should know that it was Yahweh that they were dealing with. Because of the name of Yahweh, Yahweh was going to deal with them, but not according to their evil ways or their corrupt activities.

Repent (Ezek 18:30-18:32)

“Repent!

Turn

From all your transgressions!

Otherwise iniquity

Will be your ruin!

Cast away

From you

All the transgressions

That you have committed

Against me!

Get yourselves

A new heart!

Get yourselves

A new spirit!

Why will you die?

O house of Israel!

I have no pleasure

In the death

Of anyone.

Turn then !

Live!’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh had a simple solution. They were to repent and turn away from all their transgressions. Otherwise their iniquity would be their ruin. They had to cast away all the transgressions that they had committed against Yahweh. They needed a new heart and a new spirit. Why would they want to die? Yahweh told the house of Israel that he took no pleasure in killing people. They simply had to turn away from their evil ways. Then they would live.

The conversion of the wicked ones (Ezek 18:21-18:23)

“But if the wicked ones

Turn away

From all the sins

That they have committed,

They shall surely live.

If they keep

All my statutes,

They shall not die.

If they do

What is lawful,

What is right,

They shall surely live.

They shall not die.

None of the transgressions

That they have committed

Shall be remembered

Against them.

They shall live

Because of the righteousness

That they have done.

‘Have I any pleasure

In the death

Of the wicked?

I would rather

That they should turn

From their ways.

Then they would live.’

Says Yahweh God.”

What happens if wicked people turn away from all the sins that they have committed? They would live, if they kept all the statutes of Yahweh. If they did what was lawful and right, they would not die. None of their former transgressions would be remembered against them. They would live because of their righteousness. Yahweh did not take any pleasure in the death of the wicked ones. He would rather that they should turn from their evil ways, so that they would be able to live.