“If you then,
Who are evil,
To give good gifts
To your children,
How much more
Will the heavenly Father
Give the Holy Spirit
Who ask him!”
εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὑπάρχοντες οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ Πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that if they, who are evil (εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὑπάρχοντες), know how to give good gifts (οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι) to their children (τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν), how much more (πόσῳ μᾶλλον) will the heavenly Father (ὁ Πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ) give the Holy Spirit (δώσει Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον) to those who ask him (τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν). This saying of Jesus is almost the same as in Matthew, chapter 7:11, indicating a common Q source. Luke alone mentioned giving the Holy Spirit instead of just giving good things, as in Matthew, who said that even the evil humans (εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὄντες), know how to give good gifts to their children (οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν). How much more will your heavenly Father (πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς) give you good things (δώσει ἀγαθὰ), if you were to ask for them (τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν). Ask, and it will be granted. Prayer to the heavenly Father is easy. The Holy Spirit and good things are simply awaiting your request. What kind of requests do you make to God, the Father?
“The good person
Brings good things out
Of a good treasure.
The evil person
Brings evil things
Out of an evil treasure.”
ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει ἀγαθά, καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει πονηρά.
This is similar to Luke, chapter 6:45, thus indicating a possible Q source. Matthew has Jesus continue the same dichotomy theme that only good can come from good people and only bad can come from bad persons. This is a common-sense statement that talks about good and evil men. The good or kind person (ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος) brings good things out of his good treasure or store house (ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει ἀγαθά). The evil or wicked person (καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς ἄνθρωπος) brings evil things out of his evil treasure or store house (ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει πονηρά). There is never any ambiguity.
“You brood of vipers!
How can you speak
When you are evil?
Out of the abundance
Of the heart,
The mouth speaks.”
γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν πονηροὶ ὄντες; ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ.
This saying seems to be unique to Matthew. Earlier in this work, he had John the Baptist call the Pharisees and Sadducees a blood of vipers or snakes in chapter 3:7. In chapter 23:33, once again he referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as vipers or snakes. Was he referring to the Pharisees here? Jesus addressed these people as a brood or offspring of vipers or snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν). How could they speak good things (πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν), when they were evil (πονηροὶ ὄντες)? Their mouths spoke (τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ) out of the abundance or overflow of their hearts (ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας). They could not fool anyone. Their evil hearts showed up in their speech, even if they tried to be good.
“‘Do not preach!’
This is what they preach.
‘One should not preach
Of such things.
Disgrace will not
Should this be said?
O house of Jacob!
Is Yahweh’s patience
Are these his doings?
Do not my words
Who walks uprightly?’”
Micah indicated the difference between false preaching and true preaching. Was Micah to preach or not? Did he only have to say good things in order to preach? Should he be careful about what he said? Is it disgraceful to speak about bad things? Has Yahweh exhausted all his patience? However, Micah believed that his harsh words from Yahweh would help those who were upright. The evil ones would not like to hear about their evil ways.
“If you say in your heart,
‘Why have these things
Come upon me?’
It is for the greatness
Of your iniquity.
Thus your skirts are lifted up.
You are violated.
Can Ethiopians change their skin?
Can leopards change their spots?
Can you do good
Since you are so accustomed to do evil?
I will scatter you
Like chaff driven by the wind
From the desert.’”
Yahweh was concerned that they did not realize what was going to happen to them. Was it their iniquity that led them to this point? Yes, they would be ashamed, because their skirts would be lifted up, as they will be sexually violated. The problem is that they cannot change their ways. Just like the Ethiopians with their dark skin cannot change their skin color, so neither can a leopard change its spots. They had become so accustomed to evil that they could not do any good things anymore. Thus Yahweh will scatter them like useless chaff with a strong desert wind.
“Then he remembered the days of old.
He remembered Moses his servant.
Where is the one
Who brought them up out of the sea?
Where are the shepherds of his flock?
Where is the one
Who put within them His Holy Spirit?
Who caused his glorious arm
To march at the right hand of Moses?
Who divided the waters before them?
Who made for himself an everlasting name?
Who led them through the depths?
Who was like a horse in the desert
So that they did not stumble?
Like cattle that go down into the valley,
The Spirit of Yahweh gave them rest.
Thus you led your people
To make for yourself a glorious name.”
Despite all their unfaithful actions, Yahweh kept his people safe as in the days of his servant Moses. In a series of questions, he reminds them of the good things in the past. He brought them out of the sea depths as he divided the waters with his mighty arms. Yahweh gave them the Holy Spirit to lead his flock like a shepherd. He was like a horse leading in the desert so that they would not stumble. He protected them like cattle in the valleys that finally got rest. He made his name glorious.
“All people who were ignorant of God
Were foolish by nature.
They were unable
From the good things that are seen
To know the one who exists.
They did not recognize the artisan
While paying heed to his works.
They supposed that either
Or swift air,
Or the circle of the stars,
Or turbulent water,
Or the luminaries of heaven
Were the gods that rule the world.”
All these vain foolish men (πάντες ἄνθρωποι) are ignorant of God (Θεοῦ ἀγνωσία). They see the good things of this earth, but they do not recognize the creative artisan who made them. Instead they worship the very works that he has made such as fire, wind, air, stars, water, or other heavenly bodies. They claim that these are the gods that rule the world (κόσμου θεοὺς ἐνόμισαν).
“Surely one does not turn against the needy.
When in disaster they cry for help.
Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the poor?
But when I looked for good,
When I waited for light,
My inward parts are in turmoil.
They are never still.
Days of affliction come to meet me.
I go about in sunless gloom.
I stand up in the assembly.
I cry for help.
I am a brother of jackals.
I am a companion of ostriches.
My skin turns black.
My skin falls from me.
My bones burn with heat.
My lyre is turned to mourning.
My pipe is turned to the voice of those who weep.”
This is Job’s final summary lament. The so-called patient Job was upset about his situation. Job had tried to help the needy and the poor when they needed help. However, no one heard his cry for help. He was looking for good things, but all he got was evil things. He wanted light and all he got was darkness. His stomach was upset with various afflictions that had come to him. Every day was a cloudy day. He was like a brother to wild dogs and ostriches. His skin was turning black and falling off. His whole body felt like it was burning up. His musical instruments only played mourning and weeping songs. This was the Job who did not like his situation. This was the distressed impatient Job pleading with God.
“Is not God high in the heavens?
See the highest stars!
How lofty they are!
Therefore you say.
‘What does God know?
Can he judge through the deep darkness?
Thick clouds enwrap him.
Thus he does not see.
He walks on the vault of heaven.’
Will you keep to the old way?
Will you tread the path of wicked men?
They were snatched away before their time.
Their foundation was washed away by a flood.
They said to God.
‘Leave us alone.
What can the Almighty Shaddai do to us?’
Yet he filled their houses with good things.
The plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.
The righteous see it.
The righteous are glad.
The innocent laugh them to scorn, saying.
‘Surely our adversaries are cut off.
What they have left,
The fire has consumed.’”
Eliphaz described God as a distant unknowable God. He was high in heaven above the stars. How then can this faraway God know and judge what is going on here on earth with all the dark clouds around him? Once again, he referred to the wicked as wanting to be left alone by God. Why would they want the almighty Shaddai since they had everything they wanted? However, the righteous see that the wicked fill their houses with good things. The righteous think that bad things will happen to the wicked. The distant God seemed unconcerned about what was happening here on earth.