Joseph goes to Galilee (Mt 2:22-2:22)

“But when Joseph heard

That Archelaus

Was ruling over Judea,

In place of his father,

King Herod,

He was afraid

To go there.

After being warned

In a dream,

He went away

To the district of Galilee.”

 

ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας

 

Once again, Joseph was warned in a dream (χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ), without the explicit mention of the angel of the Lord. Joseph found out that the son of King Herod (ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου), Archelaus, (23 BCE-16 CE) was now in charge in Judea (ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας). He was afraid to go back there (ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν) to Judea, since maybe King Herod’s son would be after his child just like his father. Actually, Herod Archelaus only lasted about 10 years before the Romans took the title away from him in 6 CE. Thus, Joseph decided to withdraw to the district of Galilee (ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας), without explicitly being told to do so. Galilee was a rocky terrain region in northern Israel. Originally, it was part of the tribal regions of Naphtali, Dan, and Asher, but later it was part of the northern kingdom of Israel, with a Phoenician presence and influence. In the Roman times, Galilee was clearly separate from Judea. Many of the events in the life of Jesus would take place there, even though Herod Antipas, the other son of King Herod, ruled Galilee from 4 BCE-39 CE.

Advertisements

Title

“The Gospel according to Mathew”

 

Τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον

 

What is a gospel?  Who is Matthew?  The English term gospel comes from the Old English ‘godspel.’  There was a musical play with the name “Godspell” that opened on Broadway in 1971.  Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel means good news or good tidings.  This term originally meant the Christian message itself.  However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books where this message was set out.  Thus, the gospels became known as written accounts of the career and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  This Gospel of Matthew is anonymous, since there is no explicit mention of a named author within the text itself.  This title (Τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον), however was added some time in the second century, perhaps with Papias of Hierapolis (100–140 CE), an early bishop and apostolic father.  The apostle Matthew was among the early followers and apostles of Jesus.  He was a first century Galilean, the son of Alpheus.  As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek.  His fellow Jews would have despised him because he was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force.  What we do know for certain is that the author of this gospel was probably a traditional male Jew, familiar with the technical and legal aspects of Hebrew Scripture.  He wrote in a polished Semitic synagogue Greek style.  Most scholars hold that the Gospel of Matthew was a product of the last quarter of the 1st century, a work of the second generation of Christians, probably sometime between 70-110 CE, or more precisely between 80-90 CE.  The defining event for this community was the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, during the Jewish–Roman War of 66–73 CE.  The author of this Gospel of Matthew wrote for a community of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians probably located in Syria, just north of Galilee.  Antioch was the largest city in Roman Syria and the third-largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria.  This is where the term “Christian” was first used.  Thus, it would seem like an appropriate place for Jewish Christians in the second half of the first century.   For practical traditional purposes, I will use the name Matthew as the author of this gospel.

Attitudes toward God

We all have a belief attitude to this great mysterious, even if not articulated.  This attitude may be implicit or explicit.  Thus, it can be a subconscious belief or a practical disbelief in God.  How do we describe these various belief attitudes?  Do we have a positive or negative view of God?  Do we any view of God?  Do we not even care about the question?

The law of the new Temple (Ezek 43:11-43:12)

“When they are ashamed

Of all that they had done,

Make known to them

The plan of the temple.

Let them know

Its arrangement,

Its exits,

Its entrances,

Its whole form!

Make known

To them

All its ordinances,

Its entire plan,

All its laws!

Write it down

In their sight!

Thus,

They may observe,

They may follow,

The entire plan

With all its ordinances.

This is the law

Of the temple.

The whole territory

On the top

Of the mountain,

All around,

Shall be most holy!

This is the law

Of the temple.”

Yahweh was very explicit to Ezekiel. He was to lay down the basics for the new Temple, just like Moses with his Mosaic laws. This was to be the law of the new Temple for the post-exilic Israelites. Once the Israelites had accepted their shame for all that they had done, Ezekiel was to let them know about this divine plan for the new temple. He was to tell them about its arrangements, exits, entrances, with its whole form. They were to know its ordinances, as well as the entire plan, including its laws. Ezekiel was to write it down in the sight of these Israelites, since there should not be any ambiguity. They were to observe and follow the entire plan with all its ordinances. This was to be the law for the new Temple. The whole territory on the top of the mountain with the territory all around it would be most holy. They were not to forget that this was the law of the temple.

 

The cruel capture and death of the Pharaoh (Ezek 32:3-32:6)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I will throw my net

Over you

In an assembly

Of many people.

I will haul you up

In my dragnet.

I will throw you

On the ground.

I will fling you

On the open field.

I will cause

All the birds

Of the air

To settle on you.

I will let

The wild animals

Of the whole earth

Gorge themselves

With you.

I will strew

Your flesh

On the mountains.

I will fill the valleys

With your carcass.

I will drench

The land

With your flowing blood,

Up to the mountains.

The watercourses

Will be filled

With you.’”

Yahweh was very explicit about what he was going to do to the Pharaoh. He was going to throw his fishing net over him in front of many people. He was then going to drag this net to some open field. There he was going to fling him to the ground, so that the birds of the air and the wild animals would settle on him and gorge themselves. Yahweh was going to spread the Pharaoh’s flesh on the mountains and the valleys. Parts of his dead body and his flowing blood would drench the land in the streams and on the mountains.

The precious stones in the Garden of Eden (Ezek 28:13-28:13)

“You were in Eden,

The garden of God.

Every precious stone

Was your covering.

This included

Carnelian,

Chrysolite,

Moonstone,

Beryl,

Onyx,

Jasper,

Sapphire,

Turquoise,

Emerald.

They were worked

In gold

As your settings

With your engravings.

On the day

That you were created

They were prepared.”

Somehow, this king of Tyre was in the Garden of Eden, where it is called God’s garden, with precious stones, like the Jewish ephod. This seems to be a variant of the Garden of Eden story in Genesis, chapters 2-3. Instead of a wonderful garden, this king was covered with precious stones in this great garden. These precious stones included carnelian, chrysolite, moonstone, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emeralds. They were worked into gold as settings and engravings. These precious stones were there the day that he was created, so that this allusion to creation and God’s garden of Eden was explicit. Many assumed that this garden was in the north on some mountain.

The cherubim and the living creatures of the River Chebar (Ezek 10:14-10:15)

“Each one had four faces.

The first face was

That of the cherub.

The second face was

That a human being.

The third face was

That of a lion.

The fourth face was

That of an eagle.           

The cherubim rose up.

These were

The living creatures

That I saw

By the river Chebar.”

Each one of the cherubim had 4 faces like the living creatures at the River Chebar as in chapter 1.   There was no mention of sides or fronts here. Three of the faces were exactly the same, a human face, a face of a lion, and the face of an eagle. However, the fourth face was that of a cherub here, while in chapter 1, it was an ox. Here the comparison to the cherubim in Assyrian and Babylonian times is more explicit. Thus the connection between this section and chapter 1 is very specific, since Ezekiel mentions the River Chebar.