John and Herod (Lk 3:19-3:20)

“John had rebuked

Herod,

The tetrarch ruler,

Because of Herodias,

His brother’s wife.

John also rebuked

Herod

For all the other evil things

That he had done.

Herod added

To all these evil things,

When he locked up

John in prison.”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετραάρχης, ἐλεγχόμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν πονηρῶν ὁ Ἡρῴδης,

προσέθηκεν καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πᾶσιν, κατέκλεισεν τὸν Ἰωάνην ἐν φυλακῇ

 

Both Mark, chapter 6:14-17, and Matthew, chapter 14:1-5, have the imprisonment of John much later in their works, while Luke has it right here at the beginning of his gospel story.  Luke said that John had rebuked Herod Antipas, the tetrarch (ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετραάρχης, ἐλεγχόμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ) of Galilee because of Herodias (περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος), his brother’s wife (τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ) and all the other evil things that Herod had done (καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν πονηρῶν ὁ Ἡρῴδης,).  Herod added to all these evil things (προσέθηκεν καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πᾶσιν), when he locked up John in prison (κατέκλεισεν τὸν Ἰωάνην ἐν φυλακῇ).  The Roman educated Herod, was the ruler or tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE-39 CE, as a client region, in the Roman Empire.  This Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great.  He had built the capital city of Galilee Tiberias, since he was a favorite of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37 CE).  Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee seized John the Baptist and put him in jail.  John had been complaining that Herod Antipas had married the wife of his half-brother Philip, after he had divorced his first wife.  His first wife went back to her father and started a war with Herod Antipas.  Herod’s new wife was called Herodias.  John had called him out for this marriage with Herodias, his brother’s recently divorced wife.  John had told Herod that it was not lawful for him to have her as his wife.  Thus, Herod had John arrested and sent to prison.

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The historical setting (Lk 3:1-3:1)

“In the fifteenth year,

Of the reign

Of Emperor Tiberius,

Pontius Pilate was

Governor of Judea.

Herod was the ruler

Of Galilee.

His brother Philip

Was the ruler

Of the region

Of Ituraea,

And Trachonitis.

Lysanias was the ruler

Of Abilene.”

 

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,

 

Luke tried to set the public activities of John and Jesus within a larger historical context.  Thus, here he said that it was the 15th year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Herod was the tetrarch ruler of Galilee (καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου,).  Herod’s brother Philip was the tetrarch ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis (Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας), while Lysanias was the tetrarch ruler of Abilene (καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος).  Who and what is this all about?  Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14-37 CE.  15 years into his rule would be the year 29 CE.  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, but also Samaria to the north, and Idumea to the south, from 26-36 CE, so that this time frame is consistent.  Herod Antipas and Philip were the sons of Herod the Great (37-4 BC).  Herod Antipas ruled as tetrarch of northern Galilee and Perea that was east of the Jordan River from 4 BCE-39 CE.  His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis that were north of Galilee from 4 BCE-34 CE.  Finally, some unknown leader named Lysanias ruled as the tetrarch of Abilene that was north of Damascus, but included Lebanon.  Thus, these were all the rulers of the area where John and Jesus might have traveled within this time frame

They return to Nazareth (Lk 2:39-2:39)

“When they had finished

Everything

Required by the law

Of the Lord,

They returned

To Galilee,

To their own town,

Nazareth.”

 

Καὶ ὡς ἐτέλεσαν πάντα τὰ κατὰ τὸν νόμον Κυρίου, ἐπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἰς πόλιν ἑαυτῶν Ναζαρέθ.

 

Luke finished his unique narrative about Joseph, Mary, and Jesus at the presentation ritual of Mary in Jerusalem.  He said that after they had finished everything (Καὶ ὡς ἐτέλεσαν πάντα) that was required by the Law of the Lord (ὰ κατὰ τὸν νόμον Κυρίου), they returned to Galilee (ἐπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν), to their own town of Nazareth (εἰς πόλιν ἑαυτῶν Ναζαρέθ), about 80 miles away.  Mary and Joseph had done everything according to the Israelite law, but there was no mention of a marriage ceremony, just these Temple activities.  They were faithful Israelite followers of the Torah.

Joseph goes to Bethlehem (Lk 2:4-2:4)

“Joseph also went

From the town

Of Nazareth,

In Galilee,

To Judea.

He went

To the city

Of David,

Called Bethlehem,

Because he was

Descended

From the house

And family

Of David.”

 

Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρὲθ εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν εἰς πόλιν Δαυεὶδ ἥτις καλεῖται Βηθλεέμ, διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐξ οἴκου καὶ πατριᾶς Δαυείδ,

 

Luke clearly indicated why Joseph went (Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ) from the town of Nazareth, in Galilee (ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρὲθ), to Judea (εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν).  He went to the city of David (εἰς πόλιν Δαυεὶδ), that is called Bethlehem (ἥτις καλεῖται Βηθλεέμ), because he was descended from the house (διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐξ οἴκου) and family of David (καὶ πατριᾶς Δαυείδ).  Luke never mentioned King Herod like Matthew, chapter 2:1.  However, both Matthew and Luke agreed on the place of Bethlehem, in the territory of Judah, about 5-6 miles south of Jerusalem, with a current population of about 25,000 in present day Palestinian territory.  They also both agreed that Joseph was a descendant of King David, from Bethlehem.  Matthew had first mentioned Joseph in chapter 1:27 as the engaged partner of Mary.  The Messiah had been predicted to be from Bethlehem as in Micah, chapter 5:2.  Matthew, chapter 2:5-6, had the Jewish priests and scribes tell King Herod that the place for the birth of this new king had to be Bethlehem in Judea.  The prophet Micah, had written this ode about the small town of Bethlehem, where King David came from.  Obviously, this new ruler of Israel would be from this same place and be also part of the Davidic bloodline.  Matthew and Luke made the clear connection between David, Bethlehem, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.  However, Luke, unlike Matthew had very little information about Joseph.

The child of Elizabeth (Lk 1:36-1:37)

“Now,

Your relative

Elizabeth

Has also conceived

A son,

In her old age.

This is the sixth month

For her

Who was said

To be barren.

Nothing is impossible

With God.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἐλεισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου καὶ αὐτὴ συνείληφεν υἱὸν ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς, καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ·

ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα

 

Next Luke made the connection between the upcoming birth of Jesus and that of John.  Elizabeth, although older, was a relative of Mary.  She could have been an aunt of a second cousin.  Their age differences would not make them first cousins.  Besides, they lived in different areas, Galilee and Judea.  Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron, but there was no such claim for Mary.  Was this an attempt to link Mary to the Levitical priesthood via her Levitical relative?  Perhaps Luke wanted to show a closer relationship between John and Jesus.  Luke indicated that the Angel Gabriel told Mary about his previous mission to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  He told Mary that her relative Elizabeth (καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἐλεισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου) had also conceived a son (καὶ αὐτὴ συνείληφεν υἱὸν), in her old age (ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς).  She was, in fact, already six months pregnant (καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ).  Elizabeth had been called barren or sterile (τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ).  The Angel Gabriel concluded that nothing was impossible with God (ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα).  He could overcome old age and virginity to produce a son, just like Sarah in Genesis, chapter 18:14.  Now the plan of God was clear to Mary.  She had no reason to fear anything.

The Angel Gabriel goes to Nazareth (Lk 1:26-1:26)

“In the sixth month,

The angel Gabriel

Was sent

By God

To a town

In Galilee

Called Nazareth.”

 

Ἐν δὲ τῷ μηνὶ τῷ ἕκτῳ ἀπεστάλη ὁ ἄγγελος Γαβριὴλ ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰς πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας ᾗ ὄνομα Ναζαρὲθ,

 

Luke has the angel Gabriel busy again.  He said that in the 6th month (Ἐν δὲ τῷ μηνὶ τῷ ἕκτῳ) since the conception of John, God (ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ) sent this angel Gabriel (ἀπεστάλη ὁ ἄγγελος Γαβριὴλ) to a town in Galilee (εἰς πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας), called Nazareth (ᾗ ὄνομα Ναζαρὲθ).  Gabriel moved from Jerusalem to Nazareth at the request of God.  Galilee was a region in the north, as opposed to Judea that was in the south.

Jesus appears to the eleven apostles (Mk 16:14-16:14)

“Later,

Jesus appeared

To the eleven themselves,

As they were sitting

At the table.

Jesus upbraided them

For their lack of faith

And stubbornness,

Because they had not believed

Those who saw him

After he had risen.”

 

Ὕστερον δὲ ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ὠνείδισεν τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν.

 

The risen Jesus appearing to the eleven apostles can be found in Matthew, chapter 28:16, but in Galilee, and in Luke, chapter 24:36, in Jerusalem.  John, chapter 20:19 and 26 had 2 appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem, and one in Galilee, chapter 21:1.  Here in this addition to Mark, Jesus appeared to them, probably in Jerusalem.  The apostles were sitting or reclining at the table (Ὕστερον δὲ ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς).  Then Jesus appeared to the 11 (τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη).  He upbraided or rebuked them (καὶ ὠνείδισεν) for their lack of faith or disbelief (τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν) and their stubbornness or hardness of heart (καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν).  They had not believed (οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν) those who had seen him after his resurrection (ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον).  Once again, there were doubters among these 11 apostles about the resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus was not happy about this.