Bethsaida (Lk 9:10-9:10)

“On their return,

The apostles

Told Jesus

All that they had done.

He took them

With him,

As he withdrew privately

To a city

Called Bethsaida.”

 

Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν. Καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν κατ’ ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά.

 

Luke said that on the return of the apostles (Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι), they told Jesus all that they had done (διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν).  He then took them with him (Καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς) as he withdrew privately to a city (ὑπεχώρησεν κατ’ ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν) called Bethsaida (καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά).  This opening to the multiplication of the loaves story can be found in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:13, Mark, chapter 6:30-33, John, chapter 6:1-2, and here.  Luke was the only one to mention the town of Bethsaida, while the others talked about Jesus in a boat.  This gathering of the apostles around Jesus after their mission can only be found in Mark and in Luke.  Mark said that they told Jesus everything that they had done and taught.  Thus, Jesus had a debriefing session with his apostles where he found out what had happened to them on their missionary adventures.  Then Mark said that Jesus wanted to get away to a deserted place in a boat, but somehow the crowds followed him along the bank of the sea, so that Jesus and his apostles could not get away by themselves.  Mark wanted his disciples and apostles to rest for a while, to take it easy.  Many people were coming and going, so that they did not have any leisure time to eat.  Thus, they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.  Jesus was concerned about the apostles’ mental state.  He wanted them to have some down time.  Matthew had pretty much the same story about Jesus and the boat with a slightly different twist.  Jesus left in a boat to be in a deserted or secluded place alone.  However, the crowds heard about it, so that they followed him on foot from the various towns.  Jesus could not get away by himself.  Do you ever want to get away by yourself?

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The crowds follow Jesus (Mk 6:33-6:33)

“Now many saw them

Going.

They recognized them.

They hurried there

On foot

From all the towns.

They arrived

Ahead of them.”

 

καὶ εἶδον αὐτοὺς ὑπάγοντας καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν πολλοί, καὶ πεζῇ ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν πόλεων συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ καὶ προῆλθον αὐτούς.

 

This opening to the multiplication of the loaves story can be found in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:13, Luke, chapter 9:10, John, chapter 6:1-2, and here.  Jesus wanted to get away to a deserted place in a boat, but somehow the crowds followed him.  It is not clear if they were looking for his reaction to the death of John the Baptist, or just following him as an itinerant preacher and healer.  Mark said that many people saw and recognized Jesus and his disciples leaving in the boat (καὶ εἶδον αὐτοὺς ὑπάγοντας καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν πολλοί).  They ran together on foot there along the shore from all the various towns (καὶ πεζῇ ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν πόλεων συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ).  The crowds, in fact, arrived ahead of them (καὶ προῆλθον αὐτούς). This crowd seemed to follow along the bank of the sea, so that Jesus and his apostles could not get away by themselves.

No escape (Am 9:1-9:1)

“I saw Yahweh

Standing beside the altar.

He said.

‘Strike the capitals

Until the thresholds shake!

Shatter them

On the heads

Of all the people.

Those who are left,

I will kill

With the sword!

Not one of them

Shall flee away!

Not one of them

Shall escape.’”

The final vision of Amos was when he saw Yahweh standing beside the altar, presumably the altar at Bethel in Samaria.  Yahweh said to Amos that he was going to strike the capitals or the tops of the columns so that the thresholds or the rest of the support systems would shake.  In fact, they would all tumble and shatter on the heads of the people there.  Anyone left over, Yahweh was going to kill with the sword.  No one would get away or escape from this false temple at Bethel.

Immoral lepers (Lam 4:15-4:15)

Samek

“‘Away!

Unclean!’

People shouted

At them.

‘Away!

Away!

Do not touch!’

So they became

Fugitives.

So they became

Wanderers.

It was said

Among the nations.

‘They shall

Stay here

No longer.’”

These leaders had become immoral lepers. People shouted at them to get away from them. No one was to touch these unclean people. They became like fugitives and wanderers since nobody would take them in. Everyone said not to stay there any longer since they had become moral pariahs. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Samek in this acrostic poem.

The archers against Babylon (Jer 50:29-50:29)

“Summon archers

Against Babylon!

All who bend the bow!

Encamp all around her!

Let no one escape!

Repay her

According to her deeds!

Just as she had done,

Do to her!

She has arrogantly

Defied Yahweh,

The Holy One of Israel!”

Like earlier in this chapter, the main fighters against Babylon were the archers with their bows and arrows. They were to surround Babylon, and not let anyone get away. They were to repay her for the deeds that that she had done. They should do unto her, what she had done to them. Babylon had been arrogant in defying Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, so that she deserved what she got.

A lamentation about the moral corruption of Judah (Jer 9:1-9:3)

“‘O that my head were a spring of water!

O that my eyes were a fountain of tears!

Thus I might weep day and night

For the slain of my poor people!

O that I had in the desert

A traveler’s lodging place!

Thus I might leave my people!

Thus I might go away from them!

They are all adulterers.

They are a band of traitors.

They bend their tongue

Like bows.

They have grown strong in the land

Because of falsehood,

Not because of truth.

They proceed from evil to evil.

They do not know me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has another oracle of Yahweh that speaks out about his lament over the corruption in Judah. Yahweh wished that he had a head with a spring of water or fountain of tears in his eyes, so that he could weep all day and night for the dead people of Judah. He wished that he had a lodging place in the desert so that he could get away from his poor people. They were all adulterers and traitors. They bent their tongues like bows with all their falsehood, instead of truth. They simply went from one evil to another evil. They did not even know Yahweh. It was a terrible scene. There is a slight discrepancy of the verse numbers since this first verse in the Jerusalem Bible is the last of the preceding chapter. However, I will follow the Revised Standard edition numbering for this chapter.

Oracle about Arabia (Isa 21:13-21:15)

“The oracle concerning the desert plain.

In the scrub of the desert plain

You will lodge.

O caravans of Dedanites!

Bring water to the thirsty!

Meet the fugitive with bread!

O inhabitants of the land of Tema!

They have fled

From the swords,

From the drawn sword,

From the bent bow,

From the stress of battle.”

This oracle is about the wandering Arab tribes in the desert of Arabia, currently known as Saudi Arabia. They lived among the scrubs of the desert. They lodged in caravans. These people were called Dedanites, as a reference to northern Arabs. However, they seem to be very peaceful people. They brought water to the thirsty and gave bread to the people fleeing. Tema was an oasis in northwest Arabia that was mentioned 4 other times in the Bible. This also was a peaceful place, since people went there to get away from drawn swords, bent bows, and the stress of battles itself.