The tombs of the prophets (Mt 23:29-23:30)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You build the tombs

Of the prophets.

You decorate the graves

Of the righteous.

You say.

‘If we had lived

In the days

Of our ancestors,

We would not have taken part

With them

In shedding the blood

Of the prophets.’”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτε τοὺς τάφους τῶν προφητῶν καὶ κοσμεῖτε τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν δικαίων,

καὶ λέγετε Εἰ ἤμεθα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν, οὐκ ἂν ἤμεθα αὐτῶν κοινωνοὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν προφητῶν.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:47-48.  Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, 15, 25, and 27.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  This time it was how they and their ancestors had treated the prophets of Israel.  They built the tombs of the prophets (ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτε τοὺς τάφους τῶν προφητῶν) and decorated the graves or tombs of the righteous (καὶ κοσμεῖτε τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν δικαίων).  These Pharisees said that if they had lived in the days of their ancestors or fathers (καὶ λέγετε Εἰ ἤμεθα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν), they would not have participated in the shedding of the blood of these prophets (οὐκ ἂν ἤμεθα αὐτῶν κοινωνοὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν προφητῶν).  The problem is that there were not that many prophets murdered.

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Elam in the pit (Ezek 32:24-32:25)

“Elam is there.

All its hordes are

Around its grave.

All of them

Were killed,

Fallen by the sword.

They went down,

Uncircumcised,

Into the world below.

They had spread

Terror

In the land

Of the living.

They bear their shame

With those who go down

To the pit.

They have made Elam

A bed

Among the slain

With all its hordes of people.

Their graves are

All around it.

All of them

Are uncircumcised.

They were killed

By the sword.

Terror of them

Was spread

In the land

Of the living.

They bear their shame

With those who go down

To the pit.

They are placed

Among the slain.”

Elam was the grandson of Noah or a people in present day southern Iran or Persia. Thus, Elam, with its inhabitants around its grave, was there in the pit, the shadowy afterlife. They had all been killed by the sword. They went down into the pit uncircumcised. While they were living, they had spread terror. Thus, they bear the same shame of the others who have gone down into the pit. They were in a bed with graves all around them, filled with uncircumcised people who were killed by the sword. The worst place in the pit was with these uncircumcised people who had died by the sword.

The escape from Egypt (Wis 19:1-19:5)

“The ungodly were assailed to the end

By pitiless anger.

God knew in advance

Even their future actions.

Even though they themselves had permitted

Your people to depart,

As they hastily sent them forth.

They would change their minds.

They would pursue them.

While they were still busy in mourning,

As they were lamenting

At the graves of their dead,

They reached another foolish decision.

They pursued as fugitives

Those whom they had begged to depart.

They had compelled them to depart.

The fate that they deserved

Drew them on to this end.

Fate made them forget

What had happened.

Thus they might fill up the punishment

That their torments still lacked.

Thus your people might experience an incredible journey.

However they themselves might meet a strange death.”

Once again, without any specific mention of the Red Sea incident in Exodus, chapter 13, there is an explanation of that event that is unmistakable. These ungodly (ἀσεβέσι) Egyptians had let God’s chosen ones go. However, they changed their minds. They were still in mourning, lamenting at the graves of their dead (νεκρῶν) children. Then they made another foolish decision, even thought God knew in advance that they would. Although they had begged and compelled the Israelites to leave, they now decided to pursue them as fugitives. For this, they deserved the fate that awaited them. While the people of God (λαός σου) experienced an incredible journey, these ungodly people met a strange death (θάνατον) at the Red Sea.

 

Repair of the old wall (Neh 3:16-3:19)

“After him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired from a point opposite the graves of David, as far as the artificial pool and the house of the warriors. After him the Levites made repairs. There was Rehum son of Bani. Next to him was Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, who made repairs for his district. After him their kin made repairs. There was Binnui son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. Next to him was Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, who repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the Angle.”

The old wall was inside the northern new wall. This is a different Nehemiah. This one was the half ruler of Beth-zur, which was on the main road south about 20 miles from Jerusalem. The work continued along the east wall outside the graveyard of the kings of Judah, the artificial pool and the army barracks. Then the various Levites worked on this wall. Rehum was a descendent of those who had come back with the early group, 80 years earlier. Both the leaders of Keilah, Hashabiah and Binnui, with their relatives, also helped with the repairs. Keilah was about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Then we have another ruler of Mizpah, Ezer, who was helping with the repairs. Remember that the other ruler of Mizpah, Shallum was at the Fountain Gate. Both these towns of Keilah and Mizpah were well represented in the repair work.