Against Capernaum (Mt 11:23-11:24)

“You!

Capernaum!

Will you be exalted

To heaven?

No!

You will be brought down

To Hades.

If the deeds of power

Done in you

Had been done in Sodom,

It would have remained

Until this day.

But I tell you!

On the day of judgment

That it shall be more tolerable

For the land of Sodom

Than for you.”

 

καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ, μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ; ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί, ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον.

πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί.

 

Then Matthew has Jesus take on his own new home town of Capernaum.  Luke, chapter 10:15, has a similar statement, word for word, indicating a possible common Q source.  However, the second verse is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, turned to his home town of Capernaum (καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ), as mentioned in chapter 4:13.  He questioned them.  Would they be exalted or raised up to heaven (μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ)?  No!  In fact, they would be cast down to the unseen world of Hades (ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ), the traditional Greek word for hell.  If the mighty miracles that were done in Capernaum were done in Sodom (ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί), Sodom might have remained until the present day (ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον).  This refers to the story in Genesis, chapter 19:1-29.  Then Jesus gave a solemn pronouncement “I say to you” (πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that on the day of judgment (ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί) it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for the people of Capernaum (ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται).  Thus, Jesus had warned these three towns within 10 miles of each other, because they had not repented despite his many miracles there.

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Punishment for that unhospitable town (Mt 10:15-10:15)

“Truly,

I say to you!

It shall be more tolerable

For the land

Of Sodom,

And Gomorrah,

On the day of judgment,

Than for that town.”

 

ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται γῇ Σοδόμων καὶ Γομόρρων ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ.

 

There are no equivalent passages in Mark or Luke.  However, Matthew has something like this in chapter 11:24.  Jesus, via Matthew, made a comparison between the town that had rejected them with the famous wicked cities of Genesis, chapter 18:20-19:29, Sodom and Gomorrah.  This was a solemn statement (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that it would be more tolerable (ἀνεκτότερον ἔσ) for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (γῇ Σοδόμων καὶ Γομόρρων) on the judgment day (ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως) than this town that rejected his disciples (ἢ τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ).  They had lacked hospitality to the followers of Jesus, so that they were worse than the terrible cities in Genesis.

Do not murder (Mt 5:21-5:21)

“You have heard

That it was said

To those in ancient times.

‘You shall not murder!’

Whoever murders

Shall be liable

To judgment.”

 

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις Οὐ φονεύσεις· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει.

 

Next Matthew has Jesus expand on the individual commandments. The first of these was killing or murder. Human life was important, as first outlined in Genesis, chapter 4:1-16, in the Cain and Abel story, as well as in chapter 9:5-6, after the Flood. They already knew this basic commandment, since they had heard what had been told to their ancient ancestors (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). This was the simple commandment not to murder or kill anyone (Οὐ φονεύσεις) from the Ten Commandments in Exodus, chapter 20:13 and Deuteronomy, chapter 5:17, as well as in Exodus, chapter 21:12-17, where there was a section on homicide. There were consequences for anyone who murdered someone else (ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ). They were responsible for their actions. They were liable to be brought to judgment (ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει). This judgment would be before a Jewish court. There were a series of things that had to be done when a murder occurred, as outlined in Deuteronomy, chapter 21:1-9. The law about murder was fairly clear.

Jesus’ baptism (Mt 3:16-3:16)

“When Jesus had been baptized,

Just as he came up

From the water,

Suddenly,

The heavens were opened

To him.

He saw

The Spirit of God

Descending

Like a dove,

Alighting on him.”

 

βαπτισθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εὐθὺς ἀνέβη ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἠνεῴχθησαν οἱ οὐρανοί, καὶ εἶδεν Πνεῦμα Θεοῦ καταβαῖνον ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν ἐρχόμενον ἐπ’ αὐτόν·

 

The four gospel stories show what happend to Jesus after he had been baptized (βαπτισθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  As Jesus immediately emerged from the water (εὐθὺς ἀνέβη ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος), the heavens opened up or broke open to him (καὶ ἰδοὺ ἠνεῴχθησαν οἱ οὐρανοί), a theme found among the prophets Isaiah, chapter 63:19, and Ezekiel, chapter 1:1.  Thus, Matthew made another connection with the Hebrew prophets.  Jesus saw the Holy Spirit of God (καὶ εἶδεν Πνεῦμα Θεοῦ) descend on him (καταβαῖνον ἐρχόμενον ἐπ’ αὐτόν) like a dove (ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν).  As Jesus came up from the water, not during the baptism itself, the Holy Spirit, as a dove, came to stay on Jesus.  Just as the dove after the great flood in Genesis, chapter 8:8-12, heralded a new age, so too Jesus would preach the good news in this new age.  With his prophetic vocation, Jesus was anointed with power to begin his public ministry of healing and exorcising.  The later concept of the anointing of Jesus with the Spirit referred to this action of the dove, after his baptism in the Jordan.  There was a clear distinction between the baptism of Jesus himself, and the specific dove bestowal of the Spirit that followed.  Despite the fact that there was no indication of any real anointing in any of these baptismal accounts of Jesus, the coming of the Spirit, in the form of a dove, was considered a symbolic anointing of Jesus within the Judaic prophetic line.  This incident functioned as the basis for an understanding of Jesus’ metaphorical anointing as “the anointed one,” “Christ.”  This symbolic metaphorical anointing action gathered many of the Hebrew bible strands of a messianic king, a sacerdotal high priest, a servant, and a prophet into this one event.   Within this process, the messianic time began with a pre-figuration of what was going to take place at the later Pentecost event, when the fullness of the Spirit came to all the followers of Jesus.

The dream of Joseph (Mt 1:20-1:20)

“But just when he resolved

To do this,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared to him

In a dream.

Saying.

‘Joseph!

Son of David!

Do not be afraid

To take Mary

As your wife.

The child conceived

In her is

From the Holy Spirit.”

 

ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου·

 

Joseph had resolved (αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος) to put away Mary, instead of taking her as his wife. Then an angel of the Lord (ἄγγελος Κυρίου) appeared to him in a dream (ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ). This is somewhat reminiscent of Joseph in Egypt, who interpreted dreams, but said that only God could tell them what they meant in Genesis, chapters 40-41. The various Israelite prophets often got their oracle messages in dreams. Notice that it is an angel of the Lord, “Κυρίου.” There will be no mention of Yahweh in the New Testament, since the Greek Old Testament had translated “Yahweh” into “Lord.” However, the sense was that this was God, the Father, the God of the Old Testament. Angels were the messengers of God, especially in the Book of Tobit, chapter 5, where the angel Raphael appeared to him. This angel goes unnamed here, not like the angel Gabriel of Luke, chapter 1. This angel told Joseph, the son of David, not to be afraid (μὴ φοβηθῇς) to take Mary (παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν) as his wife (τὴν γυναῖκά σου). He had nothing to be worried about. Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to reassure Joseph that everything would be alright. This angel then told Joseph that the child that had been conceived in her (ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν) was from the Holy Spirit (ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου). In a somewhat awkward phrasing, this text said the conception was from a Spirit that is holy rather than a Holy Spirit as earlier in this text. This shows a developing sense of the divine Holy Spirit.

The descendants of Perez (Mt 1:3-1:4)

“Perez was

The father of Hezron.

Hezron was

The father of Aram.

Aram was

The father of Aminadab.

Aminadab was

The father of Nahshon,

Nahshon was

The father of Salmon,”

 

Φαρὲς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἐσρώμ, Ἐσρὼμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀράμ,  Ἀρὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀμιναδάβ, Ἀμιναδὰβ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ναασσών, Ναασσὼν δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Σαλμών,

 

The genealogical lineage of Judah went through Perez (Φαρὲς), not Zerah.  According to Genesis, chapter 46, Perez had 2 sons, Hezron (Ἐσρώμ) and Hamul. who went with Jacob to Egypt.  From 1 Chronicles, chapter 2, we learn about the linage of Hezron.  He had 3 sons, Jerahmeel, Aram (Ἀράμ), and Chelubai.  This Aram became the father of Aminadab (Ἀμιναδάβ).  Aminadab had a daughter, Elisheba, who married Aaron, the brother of Moses, in Exodus, chapter 6.  Aminadab was the father of Nahshon (Ναασσών), a famous warrior prince of Judah, especially in Numbers, chapter 7.  Nahshon became the father of Salma or Salmon (Σαλμών).  The Greek text used the term ‘begat’ (ἐγέννησεν) to represent the relationships between these 5 men.  However, it seems perfectly acceptable to simply call them the father instead of saying “fathered them.”