The dinner with the tax collectors (Lk 5:29-5:29)

“Then Levi

Gave

A great banquet

For Jesus

In his house.

There was a large crowd

Of tax collectors

And others

Sitting at the table

With them.”

 

Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι.

 

Luke said that Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus (Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ) in his house (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  There was a large crowd of tax collectors (καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν) and others (καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν) sitting or reclining at the table with them (μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι).  Mark, chapter 2:15, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Mark and Luke explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi.  Perhaps Levi was wealthy enough to have a house big enough for a large banquet.  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Levi as he was about to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in Levi’s house.  However, besides the tax collectors, Mark and Matthew said that a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline with Jesus and his disciples.  However, Luke simply called them “others.”  These tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The others or sinners, on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral unclean Jewish men.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  Matthew said some of the disciples of Jesus were there.  He also said that this meal was in a house without indicating whose house.  Would it have been the house of Jesus in Capernaum?  Presumably, it was the house of Matthew, the tax collector, since other tax collectors were there also.

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The tragic death of Simon and his sons (1 Macc 16:11-16:17)

“Now Ptolemy son of Abubus had been appointed governor over the plain of Jericho. He had much silver and gold. He was the son-in-law of the high priest. His heart was lifted up. He determined to get control of the country. He made treacherous plans against Simon and his sons, to do away with them. Now Simon was visiting the towns of the country, attending to their needs. He went down to Jericho with his sons Mattathias and Judas, in the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, in the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat. The son of Abubus received them treacherously in the little stronghold called Dok, which he had built. He gave them a great banquet, but he hid men there. When Simon and his sons were drunk, Ptolemy and his men rose up. They took their weapons and rushed in against Simon in the banquet hall. They killed him and his two sons, as well as some of his servants. So he committed an act of great treachery. He returned evil for good.”

Ptolemy, the son of Abubus, was the son-in- law of Simon, since he had married Simon’s daughter, who was the sister of John, Judas, and Mattathias. He had been appointed the governor of the area around Jericho, which was north of Jerusalem. This made sense since he was member of the family by marriage. However, he plotted to take over the whole country. While Simon and his sons Judas and Mattathias were visiting various towns, they probably dropped in to see their sister and her family. After they had a great banquet where the 3 visitors got drunk, Ptolemy and his men killed all the visitors and their servants. The moral of the story is to watch out how much you drink when you visit in-laws. This all took place in 134 BCE.

Esther becomes the new queen (Esth 2:15-2:18)

“When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all as she found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Artaxerxes into his royal palace in the twelfth month, which is Adar, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won his favor and grace over all the virgins. He set the royal diadem crown on her head as she became queen. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his friends and officials lasting seven days to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a holiday remission of taxes to all the provinces under his rule. He gave gifts with royal liberality.”

Esther finally got her turn to audition with the king. She simply followed the advice of the eunuch Hegai. This was now the 7th year of the king’s rule, around 458 BCE. The original feast where the argument took place about Queen Vashti was in the 3rd year of his rule. Now after 4 years, Vashti was gone, without any mention of what happened to her. Now King Artaxerxes was smitten with Esther as he said that she was the one, since he loved her more than all the others. He immediately gave her the crown as she became Queen Esther. He gave a big wedding banquet in Esther’s honor. He also gave a tax holiday. Now that is a real holiday. He also gave gifts, which seems the opposite of most weddings where the bride and groom get the gifts. There is no specific mention of a wedding ceremony, but it might be presumed if they had a wedding banquet. There seems to be no problem about a Jewish woman marrying a non-Jewish person as there was in Ezra, chapters 9-10, and Nehemiah, chapter 10, which would have been about the same time frame. That prohibition was more about Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women.