They would not receive Jesus (Lk 9:53-9:53)

“But the people

Did not receive Jesus,

Because his face

Was set

Toward Jerusalem.”

 

καὶ οὐκ ἐδέξαντο αὐτόν, ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ

 

Now there was a note of discord here.  Luke continued his unique story of Jesus traveling through Samaria, on his way to Jerusalem.  Luke noted that the people of this Samaritan town did not want to receive Jesus (καὶ οὐκ ἐδέξαντο αὐτόν), because he was only passing by on his way to Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ).  These Samaritans did not look favorably on the Jerusalem pilgrims who passed by their towns on the way to the Temple.  After all, Jesus had steadfastly set his face (ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον) to go there, not stopping or staying to worship at Mount Gerizim in Samaria.  Thus, Jesus was not welcome, if he was going to the Judean place of worship in Jerusalem, and just visiting or passing through here.  Would you be upset if someone said that they were planning to visit someone else but just stopped by?

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Darius the Mede (Dan 11:1-11:1)

“As for me,

In the first year

Of Darius the Mede,

I stood up

To support him,

To strengthen him.”

Once again, there is a reference to Darius the Mede, also mentioned in chapter 9. As far as we can tell, there was no such person. Somehow, he comes between the Babylonian King Belshazzar and the Persian Cyrus the Great. Perhaps, he was the first Persian general who entered Babylon after its fall in 539 BCE, but there are no indications of that. He appears to be a literary fiction, perhaps based on the later Persian King Darius I, the 3rd ruler after Cyrus, from 522-486 BCE, who acted very favorably towards the returning Jews to Jerusalem. This time it is the angel Gabriel referring to how he helped Darius the Mede in his first year as the ruler, by supporting and strengthening him.

The prayer for King Nebuchadnezzar (Bar 1:11-1:12)

“Pray

For the life

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon!

Pray

For the life of his son

Belshazzar!

Thus their days

On earth

May be

Like the days of heaven.

Pray that

The Lord

Will give us strength!

Pray that

He will give

Light to our eyes!

We shall live

Under the protection

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

Under the protection

Of his son

Belshazzar.

We shall serve them

Many days.

We will find favor

In their sight.”

Baruch and these exiles looked very favorably on the king of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar (634-562 BCE), as they pray for him. They also pray for his son Belshazzar. They were going to live under the protection of both of them. They would serve both of them in order to find favor with them. King Nebuchadnezzar took over Babylon and consolidated his power around 605 BCE. He was succeeded by Amel-Marduk in 562 BCE, his son, who ruled for 2 years. Then his brother-in-law Nabonidus took over for 10 years. Belshazzar was the king of Babylon from 550-539, when the great empire fell. However, Belshazzar was not the son of King Nebuchadnezzar, but the son of Nabonidus and may have served as king with his father. Obviously there are some historical problems here.

Gifts (Sir 18:15-18:18)

“My child!

Do not mix reproach

With your good deeds!

Do not spoil your gift

By harsh words!

Does not the dew give relief

From the scorching heat?

So a word is

Better than a gift.

Indeed,

Does not a word

Surpass a good gift?

Both are to be found

In a gracious man.

A fool is ungracious.

A fool is abusive.

The gift of a grudging giver

Makes the eyes dim.”

Be careful when you are giving gifts that your words and attitude not betray your good deed. Do not criticize when you are doing good deeds. Don’t spoil your gifts with unkind words. Just like the morning dew gives relief from the later noon day heat, so too a nice word might be better than a good gift, and even surpass it. The gracious man offers both good words and good gifts. On the other hand, the fool is both ungracious and insulting. People do not look favorably on a grudging giver.