“At his gate,
Lay a poor man
Covered with sores.”
πτωχὸς δέ τις ὀνόματι Λάζαρος ἐβέβλητο πρὸς τὸν πυλῶνα αὐτοῦ εἱλκωμένος
This parable story about the poor man Lazarus and an unnamed rich man is only found in Luke, not in the other gospels. Luke indicated that Jesus said that a certain poor beggar (πτωχὸς δέ τις) lay at the gate of this rich man (ἐβέβλητο πρὸς τὸν πυλῶνα αὐτοῦ). He was named Lazarus (ὀνόματι Λάζαρος) and was covered with sores (εἱλκωμένος). Once again, Luke is the only one in all the biblical literature to use this Greek word εἱλκωμένος that means to wound, to ulcerate, or to suffer from sores. It was also unusual to give a name to this poor person, since most of the Jesus parables usually had unnamed people. The rich man was unnamed. Was this Lazarus connected to the brother of Martha and Mary in John, chapter 11? From this story, we know that Lazarus was poor and had many sores. There was no attempt to line him up with the women of Bethany, Martha and Mary. Do you personally know a poor person?
“Jesus said to them.
‘Strive to enter
Through the narrow door!
I tell you!
Many will try
And will not be able.’”
ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς
Ἀγωνίζεσθε εἰσελθεῖν διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας, ὅτι πολλοί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν.
Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) that they were to strive (Ἀγωνίζεσθε) to enter (εἰσελθεῖν) through the narrow door (διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας). With a solemn pronouncement (λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus said that many people (ὅτι πολλοί) would try to enter (ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν), but not be able to do so (καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν). This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 7:13-14, where it was part of the Sermon on the Mount, not a response to a question. Matthew had Jesus go into great detail about the narrow gate and not a door. Jesus wanted them to enter the narrow gate (ἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης). Matthew in his description of the wide or spacious gate (ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος) used two words for wide and spacious, “πλατεῖα” and “εὐρύχωρος,” that never appear elsewhere in the New Testament. The easy way of the wide gate led to destruction (ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν). Many people were entering through this wide destructive easy gate (καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς). On the other hand, the narrow gate (ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη) had a difficult way, leading to life (καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν). Only a few people were able to find their way through this difficult hard narrow life filled gate (καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν). This idea of two ways can be found also in Deuteronomy, chapter 30:15-20, and among other religions with the way of death and the way of life. The early Christian teachings of the Didache used this concept, as did many other dualistic religions that pointed to the choice of life or death, good or bad. As you had basic choices in life, God was giving you this choice, life and prosperity with the narrow gate or death and adversity with the wide gate. You had a choice between two gates. The choice of path was yours. Do you prefer the wide or the narrow door?
“Then he brought me
To the vestibule
Of the temple.
Of the vestibule,
On either side.
Of the gate
Was fourteen cubits.
Of the gate were
On either side.
Of the vestibule was
Its width was
Led up to it.
There were pillars
Beside the pilasters
On either side.”
The bronze man brought Ezekiel into inner court, the Temple properly speaking. This vestibule of the inner court was called Ulam. As usual, the bronze man began to measure everything. The pilasters were 5 cubits or 8 feet on each side. The gate was 14 cubits, about 23 feet wide. The sidewalls of the gate were 3 cubits or 5 feet on each side. The vestibule itself was 20 cubits by 12 cubits, about 32 feet by 20 feet rectangular, relatively small. There were 10 steps leading up to it, not just 7 or 8. Besides the pilasters, there were also pillars on either side.
A house is built.
The house is established.
The rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
Wise warriors are mightier
Than strong ones.
Those who have knowledge are mightier
Than those who have strength.
By wise guidance
You can wage your war.
In an abundance of counselors
There is victory.
Wisdom is too high for fools.
At the gate
They do not open their mouths.”
You need wisdom and understanding to build a house. You need knowledge so that you can fill up the rooms with precious and pleasant rich items. The wise knowledgeable warrior is mightier than the physically strong warrior. You need wise guidance to wage a war. The more counselors you have, the greater the possibility of victory. Fools think that wisdom is too high and foolish. Thus at the meetings at the gate, they say nothing.
“Do not rob the poor!
Because they are poor.
Do not crush the afflicted
At the gate.
Yahweh pleads their cause.
He despoils of life
Those who despoil them.”
Simply put, do not rob poor people because they are poor. The point is that poor people have little chance to resist a robber. You were not to crush people at the gate because that is where the accusations and trials took place. Yahweh will plead the case of the poor. If you plunder or take advantage of the poor, Yahweh will take advantage of you.
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street.
In the squares,
She raises her voice.
At the busiest corner,
She cries out.
At the entrance of the city gates
‘O simple ones!
Will you love being simple?
Will scoffers delight in their scoffing?
Will fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof!
I will pour out my thoughts to you.
I will make my words known to you.’”
Wisdom is personified as a female here. She cries out in the streets and raises her voice in the city squares like a prophetess. She cries out and speaks at the busy corners and at the gate to the entrance to a city or town. She calls out people for being simple. She wanted to know why they were deriding her. How long would these fools hate knowledge? There is a lot of mention of scoffers in these proverbs. A scoffer is someone who mocks others, a kind of a cynic. Why would they not accept a criticism? Nevertheless wisdom was going to pour out her thoughts and make her words known to them.
“It is zeal for your house
That has consumed me.
The insults of those
Who insult you
Have fallen on me.
When I humbled my soul with fasting,
They insulted me for doing so.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
I am the subject of gossip
For those who sit in the gate.
The drunkards make songs about me.”
David explained his situation. He had great zeal for the house of Yahweh that he was about to construct. However, he felt that the insults against Yahweh had fallen on him. He had fasted but people insulted him for doing that. He was wearing mourning sackcloth, but all they did was gossip about him in the public meeting places at the gate. Even the drunkards were making up songs about him.
Is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Surely vexation kills the fool.
Jealousy slays the simple.
I have seen fools taking root.
But suddenly I cursed their dwelling.
Their children are far from safety.
They are crushed in the gate.
There is no one to deliver them.
The hungry eat their harvest.
They take it even out of thorns.
The thirsty pant after their wealth.
Misery does not come from the earth.
Trouble does not sprout from the ground.
But human beings are born to trouble
Just as the birds fly upward.”
Being human is being in trouble just as birds fly. Eliphaz told Job to call, but no one will respond. Which angels or holy ones will respond to him? Irritation and jealousy kill the fools and simple ones. Eliphaz has cursed fools and their children so that they were crushed at the main gate to the town. No one helped them. The hungry ones took and ate their harvest, even from the thorny section. The thirsty ones went after their wealth. Misery and trouble do not come from the ground or the earth, but come from within humans. This is to suggest that human trouble comes from within and is not imposed. Humans are born to be troubled just like birds are born to fly. Accept this fact!
“Judith said to them.
‘Listen to me.
I am about to do something
That will go down through all generations of our descendants.
Stand at the town gate tonight.
I will go out with my maid.
Within the days after
That you have promised to surrender the town to our enemies,
The Lord will deliver Israel by my hand.
Only, do not try to find out what I am doing.
I will not tell you,
Until I have finished what I am about to do.’”
Judith told them to listen carefully. She was about to do something daring that would be remembered for generations to come. She wanted to make sure that she could get out that night through the gate with her maid servant. If she was not able to get the problem solved within 5 days, Uzziah could surrender. However, she believed that God was on her side to help deliver Israel. She was not going to tell them what she was about to do, until she had completed the task. This sounds mysterious and intriguing.
“It was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall. There was no gap left in it, although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates. Sanballat and Geshem sent to me. ‘Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.’ But they intended to do me harm. I sent messengers to them, saying. ‘I am doing a great work. I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?’ They sent to me this message four times. Each time I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written. ‘It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel. That is why you are building the wall. According to this report, you wish to become their king. You have also set up prophets in Jerusalem concerning you who say. ‘There is a king in Judah.’ Now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So come, therefore! Let us confer together.’ Then I sent to him, saying. ‘No such things as you say, has been done. You are inventing them out of your own mind.’ They all wanted to frighten us. They were thinking. ‘Their hands will drop from the work. It will not be done. But now, O God, strengthen my hands.’”
Once again, we pick up on the intrigues of Sanballat and Tobiah that we saw earlier in chapter 4. Geshem, the Arab, also was in chapter 2 of this work. This time they intended to do more than mock the Jews in Jerusalem. They knew that there were no more gaps in the wall, even though not all the doors on the gates were complete. They invited Nehemiah to the plains of Odo to harm him. 4 different times they tried to persuade him to come to Odo. Each time, Nehemiah said no. On the 5th time, they said that building the wall was like an act of rebellion. They thought that Nehemiah wanted to be the king of Judah. Nehemiah responded that they were inventing things out of their own minds. They just wanted to frighten him. They thought that the Jerusalem Jews would drop from the work, which did not happen. Nehemiah ended with a prayer to God to strengthen his hands.