False testimony (Mk 14:56-14:57)

“Many gave

False testimony

Against Jesus.

Their testimony

Did not agree.

Some stood up.

They gave

False testimony

Against Jesus.”

 

πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἴσαι αἱ μαρτυρίαι οὐκ ἦσαν.

καί τινες ἀναστάντες ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 14:60.  However, this emphasis on witnesses and testimony was not in Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 18.  Mark said that many people gave false testimony against Jesus (πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ).  Their testimonies did not agree (καὶ ἴσαι αἱ μαρτυρίαι οὐκ ἦσαν).  Some people stood up (καί τινες ἀναστάντες) and gave these false testimonies against Jesus (ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες).  There is almost a redundancy in these remarks.  According to Jewish law in Deuteronomy, chapters 17:6 and 19:15, it took 2 witnesses to convict anyone.  This gathering sounds more like a trial than an informal meeting.  Not only were they seeking pseudo or false witnesses, the whole council meeting may have been illegal, since they were not allowed to meet during the festivals, including Passover.  This council included the elders or presbyters and the Scribes of Jerusalem, along with the priests and the high priests.  However, the dreaded Pharisees and Sadducees were not part of this council meeting.

Looking for false testimony (Mt 26:59-26:60)

“Now the chief priests

And the whole council

Sought

False testimony

Against Jesus.

Thus,

They might put him

To death.

But they found none.

Even though

Many false witnesses

Came forward.”

 

Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ τὸ συνέδριον ὅλον ἐζήτουν ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ὅπως αὐτὸν θανατώσωσιν,

καὶ οὐχ εὗρον πολλῶν προσελθόντων ψευδομαρτύρων.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:55-56.  However, this is not in Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 18.  Matthew and Mark said that the chief priests (Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς) and the whole council (καὶ τὸ συνέδριον ὅλον) sought false testimony against Jesus (ἐζήτουν ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ).  They did this so that they might put him to death (ὅπως αὐτὸν θανατώσωσιν).  However, they could not find any witnesses (καὶ οὐχ εὗρον), even though many false witnesses came forward (πολλῶν προσελθόντων ψευδομαρτύρων).  According to Jewish law in Deuteronomy, chapters 17:6 and 19:15, it took 2 witnesses to convict anyone.  This sounds more like a trial than an informal meeting.  Not only were they seeking pseudo or false witnesses, the whole council meeting may have been illegal, since they were not allowed to meet during the festivals, including Passover.  The whole council would have included the elders or presbyters and the Scribes of Jerusalem, along with priests and high priests.  The dreaded Pharisees and Sadducees were not part of this council or meeting.

The coming glorious king (Isa 33:17-33:20)

“Your eyes will see

The king in his beauty.

They will behold

A land that stretches far away.

Your mind will muse on the terror.

‘Where is the one who counted?

Where is the one who weighed the tribute?

Where is the one who counted the towers?’

No longer will you see the insolent people,

The people of an obscure speech,

That you cannot comprehend.

They were stammering

In a tongue

That you cannot understand.

Look upon Zion!

The city of our appointed feasts!

Your eyes will see Jerusalem!

A quiet habitation!

There is an immovable tent

Whose stakes will never be plucked up.

None of its ropes will be broken.”

This is definitely an oracle from the Exile talking about the return to Jerusalem, Mount Zion. This future king will be in his glory in a great expansive land. Then they would remember the terror that they went through. They were counted and had to pay tribute. They had towers to watch over them. Those insolent people spoke to them in an obscure language that they did not understand. They were stammering away, so that no one could comprehend what they were talking about. Now, however, they could look to Mount Zion in Jerusalem where they could have festivals. There they could live in a quiet place with an immovable tent that had good stakes and strong ropes.

Ariel (Isa 29:1-29:4)

“Woe to you!

Ariel!

Ariel!

This is the city

Where David encamped!

Add year to year!

Let the festivals run their round!

Yet I will distress Ariel!

There shall be moaning!

There shall be lamentation!

Jerusalem shall be to me

Like an altar hearth.

Like David,

I will encamp against you.

I will besiege you with towers.

I will raise siege works against you.

Then deep from the earth,

You shall speak.

From low in the dust,

Your words shall come.

Your voice shall come from the ground

Like the voice of a ghost.

Your speech shall whisper

Out of the dust.”

Ariel is a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar. Yahweh, via Isaiah, warns Jerusalem about what is going to happen to it. Perhaps this is before the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE. Jerusalem was where King David had lived and where festivals continued on an annual basis. However, Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it. They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust. Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile.

Religious hypocrites (Isa 1:13-1:16)

“I cannot endure

Solemn assemblies

With iniquity.

I cannot endure

New moon convocations.

I cannot endure

Sabbath convocations.

My soul hates

Your new moon celebrations.

My soul hates

Your appointed festivals.

They have become a burden to me.

I am weary of bearing them.

When you spread forth your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you.

Even though you make many prayers,

I will not listen.

Your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves!

Make yourselves clean!

Remove the evil

Of your doings

From before my eyes.

Cease to do evil!”

Yahweh via Isaiah continues to reject all convocations and assemblies for the new moon and the various festivals, even for the Sabbath because of their iniquity. What a striking turn of events! The kings and priests loved these assemblies for fulfilling the law in the Torah. Isaiah and Yahweh seem to be calling out the hypocrisy of these worship assemblies where evil iniquitous people gathered for these festivals. Yahweh could not endure them any longer. His soul hated them. He was weary of their burden on him.   He was going to hide his eyes and not listen to their prayers. Then in surprisingly priestly language he talks about the unclean bloody hands that need to be washed. Somehow the idea of clean and unclean was acceptable. However, these worshippers had to change their evil habits. They had to cease to do evil. Maybe, this rebuke against offerings and festivals was not absolute.

Happy are the people (Ps 89:15-89:18)

“Happy are the people

Who know the festal shout.

Happy are the people

Who walk in the light of your countenance.

Yahweh!

Happy are the people

Who exalt in your name all day long.

Happy are the people

Who extol your righteousness.

You are the glory of their strength.

By your favor our horn is exalted.

Our shield belongs to Yahweh,

Our king,

The holy one of Israel.”

The people are happy when they are able to shout at the festivals, when they walk in the light of Yahweh. They are happy when they exalt the name of Yahweh all day long. They extol Yahweh’s righteousness. They glory in his strength, since the horn was a symbol of strength. They were happy with their shield, the king who was the holy one of Israel.

The letter to the Spartans about the present (1 Macc 12:9-12:18)

“Therefore, though we have no need of these things,

Since we have as encouragement

The holy books that are in our hands.

We have undertaken to send

To renew our family ties and friendship with you,

So that we may not become estranged from you.

Considerable time has passed

Since you sent your letter to us.

We therefore remember you constantly on every occasion,

Both in our festivals and on other appropriate days,

At the sacrifices which we offer

And in our prayers,

As it is right and proper to remember brothers.

We rejoice in your glory.

But as for ourselves,

Many trials and many wars have encircled us.

The kings around us have waged war against us.

We were unwilling to annoy you

And our other allies and friends with these wars.

We have the help that comes from Heaven for our aid.

We were delivered from our enemies.

Our enemies were humbled.

We therefore have chosen Numenius son of Antiochus

And Antipater son of Jason,

We have sent them to Rome to renew our former friendship

And alliance with them.

We have commanded them to go also to you,

To greet you

To deliver to you this letter from us

Concerning the renewal of our family ties.

Now please send us a reply to this.”

Jonathan’s letter continued to remind them that they relied on their holy books, which would have been the law, Torah, and the prophets. Nevertheless, Jonathan thought that it was time to renew their alliance and friendship. Almost a century and a half had passed without any renewal. During this time, they had remembered the Spartans in their prayers and festivals. Funny, this is the first mention of the Spartans. The Jews have had some problems, but their aid from heaven has helped them to defeat their enemies on every side. He was sending Numenius and Antipater to Rome to renew their friendship. However, he also wanted to renew the family ties with the Spartans. Jonathan also wanted a reply from them.