Prologue

This Gospel of Matthew has a prologue with five parts that echo the book of Genesis.  First, there was the genealogy of Jesus via Joseph that began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Then this genealogy went through the twin sons of Judah and the descendants of Perez.  Then it went from Ruth to King David.  Then there was the kings of Judah from Solomon to the gap and up to and including the Babylonian captivity.  Finally, there were the unknown names in this genealogy that led up to Joseph and his father.  Matthew then explained the genealogy of Jesus, since there were differences of this genealogy with that of the Gospel of Luke.

The second part of this prologue was the virgin birth of Jesus.  First of all, there was the conception of Jesus from Joseph’s point of view, not Mary’s.  Joseph wanted to divorce Mary for being pregnant until an angel in a dream told him that Jesus would be a special child that fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.  After waking up from his dream, there was the virgin birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

The third part of this prologue was the visit of the Magi.  They brought their questions to Herod the Judean Roman king, who was annoyed and frightened.  He found out that Bethlehem was described by the prophet Micah as the place where the Messiah would be born.  Herod summoned the Magi and sent them to Bethlehem.  The Magi followed the star and found Mary with the child at the so-called Epiphany.  However, they went home another route so that they did not go back to King Herod.

The fourth part was the flight into Egypt, as Joseph had another dream.  They went to Egypt to fulfill another prophecy that the Messiah would come out of Egypt.  Meanwhile, King Herod killed all the under two-year old boys in the Bethlehem area as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah.

Finally, the fifth part of the prologue was the return of Jesus to Nazareth when Joseph had a third dream.  He was told to return to Israel, or more specifically to Galilee in a place called Nazareth.  Thus, this prologue gave the unique perspective of Joseph.

Advertisements

Peter walks on the water (Mt 14:29-14:30)

“Jesus said.

‘Come!’

Thus,

Peter got out of the boat.

He started walking

On the water.

He came toward Jesus.

But when he noticed

The strong wind,

He became frightened.

He began to sink.

He cried out.

‘Lord!

Save me!’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἐλθέ. καὶ καταβὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ πλοίου Πέτρος περιεπάτησεν ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα καὶ ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν.

βλέπων δὲ τὸν ἄνεμον ἐφοβήθη, καὶ ἀρξάμενος καταποντίζεσθαι ἔκραξεν λέγων Κύριε, σῶσόν με.

 

This section about Peter walking on the water is unique to Matthew, as he tended to emphasize the importance of Peter.  Jesus told Peter to come to him (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἐλθέ).  Thus, Peter got out of the boat (καὶ καταβὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ πλοίου Πέτρος) and started walking on the water (περιεπάτησεν ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα).  He came toward Jesus (καὶ ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν), but he noticed a strong wind (βλέπων δὲ τὸν ἄνεμον), so that he became frightened (ἐφοβήθη).  Thus, he began to sink (καὶ ἀρξάμενος καταποντίζεσθαι), as he cried out to Jesus, his Lord or master, to save him (ἔκραξεν λέγων Κύριε, σῶσόν με).

Gabriel will explain (Dan 8:16-8:17)

“I heard a human voice

By the Ulai,

Calling.

‘Gabriel!

Help this man

Understand

The vision!’

So,

He came near

Where I stood.

When he came,

I became frightened.

I fell prostrate.

But he said to me.

‘Understand!

O son of man!

That the vision is

For the time

Of the end!’”

Then Daniel, in the first-person singular, heard a human voice or an angel speaking in a human voice. He was at the Ulai River, in Susa. This voice called for Gabriel to help him understand his vision. Then the archangel Gabriel came close to Daniel, but he was frightened and fell to the ground prostrate. Then Gabriel called him son of man. He told him that he should understand that this vision was for the end times.

The fearful dream of the king (Dan 4:4-4:5)

“I,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

Was living at ease

In my house.

I was prospering

In my palace.

I saw a dream

That frightened me.

My fantasies in bed

Terrified me.

The visions of my head

Alarmed me.”

This author of the Book of Daniel has the king of Babylon speaking in the first-person singular. He was living at ease in his house, prospering in his palace. Everything was all good. Then he had a dream that frightened him. These fantasies and visions terrified and alarmed him.

The results of the attack on Moab (Isa 15:4-15:6)

“Heshbon cries out.

Elealeh cries out.

Their voices are heard

As far as Jahaz.

Therefore the loins of Moab quiver.

His soul trembles.

My heart cries out for Moab.

His fugitives flee to Zoar,

To Eglath-shelishiyah.

At the ascent of Luhith,

They go up weeping.

On the road to Horonaim,

They raise a cry of destruction.

The waters of Nimrim

Are a desolation.

The grass is withered.

The new growth fails.

The verdure is no more.”

As far as we can tell, everybody was crying out from the towns of Heshbon (mentioned 37 times in the biblical literature) and Elealeh (mentioned 10 times in the biblical literature). They were towns in the Israelite Reuben territory, but Isaiah seems to indicate here that they were part of upper Moab. This crying could be heard 25 miles away north in Jahaz (mentioned 8 times in the biblical literature) which was in the Israelite Gad territory. The Moab people were frightened. They were trembling. In fact, Isaiah says that even his heart cried out for them. These Moabites fugitives fled south to the tip of the Dead Sea near Zoar, which is on southeast end of the Dead Sea. There was a story about Lot in Genesis about this city (chapters 13-19). They also fled to the surrounding towns of Eglath-shelishiyah and Horonaim, near the ascent of the Luhith hills. Isaiah is the only one to mention any of these towns, but they seem to be in southern Moab near Zoar. The waters of Nimrim were desolate with grass withering and nothing growing. Only Jeremiah and Isaiah make any reference to these waters of Nimrim. Anyway, everybody was crying and upset.

Numerical saying (Sir 26:5-26:6)

“Of three things,

My heart is frightened.

I am in great fear of a fourth.

The three are

Slander in the city,

The gathering of a mob,

And false accusations.

All these are worse

Than death.

But it is heartache.

It is a sorrow

When a wife

Is jealous of a rival.

A tongue-lashing

Makes it known to all.”

Sirach once again imitates the numerical sayings of Proverbs. Sirach was frightened of three things, (1) slander in the city, (2) a gathering mob, and (3) false accusations. All of these 3 were worse than death itself. However, the greatest fear was the heartache and sorrow of a wife who was jealous of a rival. This may be a reference to polygamy where one wife was jealous of another wife. Apparently, this became known to everybody when the wife issued a tongue-lashing.

Judas Maccabeus rallies his troops (2 Macc 8:16-8:18)

“But Judas Maccabeus gathered his men together, to the number six thousand. He exhorted them not to be frightened by the enemy. They were not to fear the great multitude of gentiles who were wickedly coming against them. But they were to fight nobly. They were to keep before their eyes the lawless outrage that the gentiles had committed against the holy place. They were to keep before their eyes the torture of the derided city, and besides, the overthrow of their ancestral way of life. He said.

‘They trust to arms and acts of daring.

But we trust in the Almighty God.

He is able with a single nod to strike down

Those who are coming against us

And even the whole world.’”

Like in 1 Maccabees, Judas Maccabeus was able to keep all his 6,000 troops together despite some minor defections. They were not to fear the wicked gentiles who were coming against them, but to fight nobly. They were to remember the evil acts of the gentiles against the holy place and the tortured city of their ancestors. They were to trust in the Almighty God who could strike down those coming against them, and even the whole world. He tried to calm their fears by saying that the powerful God was on their side.