Description of the servant of Yahweh (Matt 12:19-12:21)

“He will not quarrel.

He will not cry aloud.

They will not hear his voice

In the streets.

He will not break

A bruised reed.

He will not quench

A smoldering wick,

Until he brings justice to victory.

In his name,

The gentiles will hope.”

 

οὐκ ἐρίσει οὐδὲ κραυγάσει, οὐδὲ ἀκούσει τις ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ.

κάλαμον συντετριμμένον οὐ κατεάξει καὶ λίνον τυφόμενον οὐ σβέσει, ἕως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ εἰς νῖκος τὴν κρίσιν.

καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν.

 

Second Isaiah, chapter 42:2-4, described this servant of Yahweh.  He would not cry nor lift up his voice in the streets.  He would not break the bruised reeds nor put out a dimly burning wick on a candle.  In other words, he would be a very quiet person.  However, he would fight for justice.  He would not be faint or crushed, until he has established justice on the whole earth.  Matthew clearly applied this description to Jesus since Jesus would not quarrel or be contentious (οὐκ ἐρίσει).  Jesus would not cry out or shout (οὐδὲ κραυγάσει).  They would not hear Jesus’ voice in the streets (οὐδὲ ἀκούσει τις ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ).  Jesus would not break a bruised reed into pieces (κάλαμον συντετριμμένον οὐ κατεάξει).  Jesus would not quench a smoldering wick on a candle (καὶ λίνον τυφόμενον οὐ σβέσει).  Jesus would bring justice to victory (ἕως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ εἰς νῖκος τὴν κρίσιν).  In the name of Jesus (καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ), the gentile nations would hope (ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν).  There was no doubt in the mind of Matthew that Jesus was the servant of Yahweh from Isaiah.

Seek the kingdom first (Mt 6:31-6:33)

“Therefore,

Do not be anxious!

Saying.

‘What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?’

The gentiles

Strive for all these things.

Your heavenly Father

Knows

That you need

All these things.

But strive first

For the kingdom!

Strive

For his righteousness!

Then all these things

Will be given

To you as well.”

 

μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες· Τί φάγωμεν; ἤ· Τί πίωμεν; ἤ· Τί περιβαλώμεθα;

πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων.

ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν βασιλείαν καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:29-31, has a similar Jesus saying, indicating a common Q source.  The same theme continues.  They should not be worried or anxious (μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες).  Why are they anxious about what to eat (Τί φάγωμεν), to drink (ἤ Τί πίωμεν), or to wear (ἤ·Τί περιβαλώμεθα)?  Those are the kind of questions that gentiles ask about (πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν).  Matthew continued his attack on the gentile, non-Jewish people.  Their heavenly Father knew about everything that they needed (οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων).  Thus, they should seek or strive first (ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον) for the kingdom (τὴν βασιλείαν) and his righteousness (καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ).  Then all these other things would be taken care of for them (καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν).  A couple of manuscripts say kingdom of God (βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ), instead of just the kingdom, but that is not in the main manuscripts.  Matthew always used the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of God.

Perfect love (Mt 5:46-5:48)

“If you love those

Who love you,

What reward do you have?

Do not even the tax collectors

Do the same?

If you greet only

Your brothers and sisters,

What more are you doing

Than others?

Do not even the gentiles

Do the same?

Therefore,

Be perfect,

As your heavenly Father

Is perfect.”

 

ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς, τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;

καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον, τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;

Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι ὡς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν.

 

Once again Matthew and Luke, chapter 6:32-34, are almost the same, perhaps a slightly different use of the Q source.  If you only loved those who loved you (ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς), what kind of reward would you get (τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε)?  Even the Roman tax collectors (οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν) love those who love them.  If you only just greet your brothers (καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον), the members of your own family, what is the big deal or so extraordinary (τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε)?  Even the gentiles or non-Jewish people (οἱ ἐθνικοὶ), since almost all the followers of Jesus were Jewish, did that (οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν).  If they wanted to be perfect (Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι), like their heavenly Father (ὡς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν), they had to love and greet everyone.  Only Matthew has this emphasis on perfection, completeness, or maturity (τέλειός).

Different genealogies

Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke listed the family tree of Jesus. However, only David and Joseph were on both lists. These genealogies were theological statements with different parent genealogies and different audiences. Matthew, as just shown, went from Abraham to Jesus, so that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish messianic expectations. The theme of David was important, since Joseph was called the son of David. Matthew explained that there were 3 sections of 14 generations. One section went from the call of Abraham to the accession of David as king. The second grouping went from David to the Babylonian exile. The final section went from the Exile to the coming of the Messiah. Matthew also has the Magi story, where Herod’s appearance has echoes of the Old Testament with various references to Old Testament prophecies. The Gospel of Luke genealogy, on the hand, went from Jesus to Adam to God. Luke’s view was more universal. Jesus could trace his roots back to God. Luke, who had the best Greek, was writing for the gentiles of the Pauline Churches. The Son of God was a more meaningful term. Luke spoke of the Son of Adam, the second Adam, a theme that Paul also used. Jesus had both divine and human origins. This was not difficult for Greeks, since their gods were always having relations with humans in their mythical stories. Thus, there are two different genealogies for Joseph, with only one common person, David.

Judas Maccabeus prepares to attack (2 Macc 15:6-15:11)

“Thus Nicanor in his utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his forces. But Judas Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord. He exhorted his troops not to fear the attack of the gentiles. Rather, they should keep in mind the former times when help had come to them from heaven. They were now to look for the victory which the All powerful would give them. Encouraging them from the law and the prophets, he reminded them also of the struggles they had won. He made them the more eager. When he had aroused their courage, he issued his orders. At the same time he pointed out the perfidy of the gentiles and their violation of oaths. He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words. He cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief.”

Nicanor was so confident that he wanted to create a public monument of his victory over Judas Maccabeus that not yet happened. On the other hand, Judas Maccabeus was confident that his help would come from the Lord. He told his troops not to feat the attack of the gentiles. They should remember the former times when help came from heaven. Victory would come from the all powerful God. He encouraged them by reading from the Law and the prophets and all their struggles. The troops became more eager to fight as their courage was aroused. Judas also pointed out the lying and the violations of the gentiles. They had confidence in their shields and spears, but his troops would have confidence in the inspired words of God. He cheered them all by talking about a visionary dream.

The tragic suicide death of Razis (2 Macc 14:37-14:46)

“A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots. He was very well thought of. For his good will, he was called father of the Jews. In former times, when there was no mingling with the gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism. He had most zealously risked body and life for Judaism. Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity which he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him. He thought that by arresting him, he would do them an injury. When the troops were about to capture the tower, they forced the door of the courtyard. They ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis fell upon his own sword. He preferred to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly. The crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He courageously ran up on the wall. He bravely threw himself down into the crowd. But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space. Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose up. Although his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe, he ran through the crowd. Standing upon a steep rock, with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails. He took them with both hands and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.”

Wow, what a gruesome description of the death of Razis! Razis was a well respected Jewish elder, sometimes referred to as the father of the Jews. He was accused of Judaism because he would not mingle with the gentiles. Nicanor wanted to make an example of him so he sent 500 troops to arrest him. So far this does not sound outlandish. Then when they got to his house, they decided to set fire to his door to get in. Then Razis was surrounded and decided to kill himself with a sword, a common Roman practice, rather than die in disgrace. However, in the heat of the excitement with the 500 troops running at him, he somehow missed killing himself but merely cut himself. So Razis ran to the top of the wall. He wanted to hurl himself into the crowd, but they stepped back and he fell into an empty space. Now as he was angry and still alive, he ran through the crowd of troops until he got to a sharp rock. The blood was gushing out all over the place. Somehow he tore out his own intestines and threw them at the crowd. This was some weird scene. Here then is the main point. He cried to the Lord of life to give them back to him. Of course, he died. Somehow this father of Judaism believed that his intestines would be restored in some kind of afterlife, a resurrection. This is one of the few times that we have a Jewish attempted suicide.

The battle with Nicanor (2 Macc 14:15-14:17)

“When the Jews heard of Nicanor’s coming and the gathering of the gentiles, they sprinkled dust upon their heads. They prayed to him who established his own people forever. He always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself. At the command of the leader, they set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a village called Dessau. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabees, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily checked because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy.”

Once again this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. Here the Jews sprinkled their heads with dust and prayed, while there was no mention of that in 1 Maccabees. Here they are battling at Dessau and not Caphar-salama as in 1 Maccabees. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabeus seems to have suffered a minor setback because of some consternation.

Nicanor as the governor of Judea (2 Macc 14:11-14:14)

“When Alcimus had said this, the rest of the king’s friends, who were hostile to Judas Maccabeus, quickly inflamed King Demetrius still more. He immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants. He appointed him governor of Judea. He sent him off with orders to kill Judas Maccabeus and scatter his troops. He was to install Alcimus as high priest of the great temple. The gentiles throughout Judea, who had fled before Judas Maccabeus, flocked to join Nicanor. They thought that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves.”

Once again, this is similar but not quite the same as 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. There is no mention of Bacchides here. Instead the leader of the troops and the governor of Judea was Nicanor. Apparently, Nicanor had been in charge of the elephants that seem to have been a big deal in the Syrian army. He may also have been with King Demetrius I when he was in jail in Rome. Now this meant that there was a separate governor for Judea whose sole purpose was to kill Judas Maccabees and disperse his troops. Alcimus was officially made the high priest. The gentiles in the area were happy so that they eagerly joined with Nicanor. The assumption of the gentiles was a zero sum game that if the Jews were in trouble, it would be better for them.

Judas Maccabeus asks for prayers (2 Macc 13:9-13:12)

“The king with barbarous arrogance was coming to show the Jews things far worse than those that had been done in his father’s time. But when Judas Maccabeus heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and night. Now was the time to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law, their country, and the holy temple. He did not want to let the people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined in the same petition. They had implored the merciful Lord with weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing. Then Judas Maccabeus exhorted them and ordered them to stand ready.”

Judas Maccabeus heard that King Antiochus V was coming to destroy the Jews. He was going to be worse than his father King Antiochus IV. Judas Maccabeus ordered the people to pray to the Lord day and night. He was afraid that they would fall back into the deprived ways of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined him in imploring the Lord for 3 days of weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate. Then he exhorted and commanded them to get ready.

The attack of Judas Maccabeus on Caspin (2 Macc 12:13-12:16)

“Judas Maccabeus also attacked a certain city that was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls. Inhabited by all sorts of gentiles, its name was Caspin. Those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions, behaved most insolently toward Judas Maccabeus and his men. They railed at them, even blaspheming and saying unholy things. But Judas Maccabeus and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without battering-rams or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously upon the walls. They took the town by the will of God. They slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile wide, appeared to be running over with blood.”

This Caspin may be the same as Chaspho in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. The only apparent reason for attacking this strongly fortified town was because they had some gentiles there. However, for some reason, the people in this town were insolent to Judas Maccabeus and his men. They blasphemed and said unholy things. Judas Maccabeus, after calling on the sovereign Lord, rushed the walls of this town named Caspin. Once again, by the will of God, they took this town like in the days of Joshua at Jericho. Here they killed so many people that a lake a quarter of a mile wide looked like it was running over with blood.