The colt (Lk 19:30-19:30)

“Jesus said.

‘Go into the village

Ahead of you!

As you enter it,

You will find

A colt tied there,

That has never

Been ridden.

Untie it!

Bring it here!’”

 

λέγων Ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κατέναντι κώμην, ἐν ᾗ εἰσπορευόμενοι εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον, ἐφ’ ὃν οὐδεὶς πώποτε ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν, καὶ λύσαντες αὐτὸν ἀγάγετε.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus told (λέγων) these two disciples to go into the village ahead of them (Ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κατέναντι κώμην).  They were to enter the village (ἐν ᾗ εἰσπορευόμενοι) and find a colt tied there (εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον), that had never been ridden or that no man had ever sat on (ἐφ’ ὃν οὐδεὶς πώποτε ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν).  They were to untie it (καὶ λύσαντες αὐτὸν) and then bring it back (ἀγάγετε) to Jesus.  Jesus wanted these two unnamed disciples to go into the village in front of them to get a tied up unbroken colt and bring it back to him.  This sounded simple enough.  Both Matthew, chapter 21:2, and Mark, chapter 11:2 are similar, but Matthew had a colt and a donkey, while Luke and Mark had merely a colt.  Mark said that Jesus told the two unnamed disciples (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) to go into the village that was just ahead of them (Ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν).  There immediately on entering the village (καὶ εὐθὺς εἰσπορευόμενοι εἰς αὐτὴν), they would find a colt tied up (εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον).  This was a colt that no person had ever ridden on before (ἐφ’ ὃν οὐδεὶς οὔπω ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν).  Jesus told these two unnamed disciples to untie it (λύσατε αὐτὸν) and bring it back to him (καὶ φέρετε).  In Matthew, Jesus told the two disciples (λέγων αὐτοῖς) to travel into the village that was just ahead of them (Πορεύεσθε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν).  There they would immediately find a donkey tied up (καὶ εὐθὺς εὑρήσετε ὄνον δεδεμένην) with a young colt next to it (καὶ πῶλον μετ’ αὐτῆς) also tied up.  Jesus told these two disciples to untie (λύσαντες) both of them.  Then they were to bring or guide them back to him (ἀγάγετέ μοι).  Matthew alone spoke about the donkey and the colt, not just the colt.  Otherwise, everything was pretty much the same in all three synoptic gospels.  Apparently, Jesus and his disciples always traveled on foot or by boat, but never riding animals.  Have you ever ridden on a donkey?

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Peace (Lk 1:79-1:79)

“God will give light

To those who

Sit in darkness.

He will give light

To those who

Sit in the shadow

Of death.

He will

Guide our feet

Into the way

Of peace.”

 

ἐπιφᾶναι τοῖς ἐν σκότει καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου καθημένοις, τοῦ κατευθῦναι τοὺς πόδας ἡμῶν εἰς ὁδὸν εἰρήνης.

 

Luke concluded Zechariah’s canticle with a call to peace for all Israelites.  Zechariah said that God would give light or shine upon those who sat in darkness (ἐπιφᾶναι τοῖς ἐν σκότει).  He would also give light to those who sat in the shadow of death (καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου καθημένοις).  He would guide their feet (τοῦ κατευθῦναι τοὺς πόδας ἡμῶν) into the way of peace (εἰς ὁδὸν εἰρήνης).  Once again, returning to prophetic expectations, Zechariah said that things would be good for those living in darkness or the shadow of death.  Hope or the messiah would come so that they would have the lasting peace that they so desired.

 

Zechariah’s turn to burn incense (Lk 1:9-1:9)

“Zechariah

Was chosen by lot,

According to the custom

Of the priesthood.

He was to enter

The sanctuary

Of the Lord

To burn incense.”

                                                                     

κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας ἔλαχε τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου,

 

Luke pointed out that not only was his group of priests on duty, Zechariah was also chosen by lot (ἔλαχε), as was the priestly custom (κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας), to enter the sanctuary of the Lord (εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου) to burn incense (τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι).  Apparently, as mentioned elsewhere, choosing by lot or chance was a fairly common way to make decisions, since God would guide the choice.  This Levite priestly custom meant that Zechariah got to enter the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary of the Temple, where he would burn incense, a big honor.

Get a donkey and a colt (Mt 21:2-21:2)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Go into the village

Ahead of you!

Immediately,

You will find

A donkey tied,

And a colt with her.

Untie them!

Bring them to me.’”

 

λέγων αὐτοῖς Πορεύεσθε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν, καὶ εὐθὺς εὑρήσετε ὄνον δεδεμένην καὶ πῶλον μετ’ αὐτῆς· λύσαντες ἀγάγετέ μοι.

 

Both Mark, chapter 11:2, and Luke, chapter 19:30, are similar but they only had a colt and not a donkey.  Here Jesus told the two disciples (λέγων αὐτοῖς) to travel into the village that was just ahead of them (Πορεύεσθε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν).  There they would immediately find a donkey tied up (καὶ εὐθὺς εὑρήσετε ὄνον δεδεμένην) with a young colt next to her (καὶ πῶλον μετ’ αὐτῆς) also tied up.  Jesus told these two disciples to untie (λύσαντες) both of them.  Then bring or guide them back to him (ἀγάγετέ μοι).  Matthew alone spoke about the donkey and the colt, not just the colt.  Apparently, Jesus and his disciples always traveled on foot or by boat, but never riding animals.

The tools for my New Testament project

After spending a little over 4 years on the Old Testament, it will be fun to study the New Testament.  I learned a lot about the Hebrew Scriptures.  I am now able to better understand the Jewish background of Jesus.  All my life I have tried to understand the Christian message of Jesus.  As an emeritus professor of religious studies, I began my retirement Bible project at the age of 74 in 2013.  Now in 2018, at age 78, I going to dive into the Greek New Testament aided by reading the Bible in French, La Sainte Bible: traduite en francais sous la direction du L’Ecole Biblique de Jerusalem, the 1961 edition of the Jerusalem Bible that I first studied in 1962.  As a guide to help me with this translation, I will use the New Revised Standard Version of the New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha: An Ecumenical Study Bible Completely Revised and Enlarged, the 1994 edition.  I will also use Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine by Eberhard and Erwin Nestle and Kurt Aland, the 1960 edition, that I used over fifty years ago.  To be more precise, the 1904 Nestle Greek edition is now on line as found at Bible Hub.  To help understand the Greek New Testament text, I will use The Jewish Annotated New Testament of the New Revised Standard Version, edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, 2011.  As a further aid, I will use the Bible Concordance, Synopsis Quattuor Evavgeliorum, Locis parallelis evangeliorum apocyrphorum et pratrum adhibitis edidit Kurt Aland, the 1964 edition.  Finally, I will use that invaluable online web site of the Bible Hub. http://biblehub.com/.

Good conduct (Isa 58:9-58:12)

“If you remove the yoke

From among you,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you remove the pointing of the finger,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you stop speaking of evil,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you offer your food to the hungry,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

Your gloom will be

Like the noonday.

Yahweh will guide you continually.

He will satisfy your needs in parched places.

He will make your bones strong.

You shall be

Like a watered garden,

Like a spring of water,

Whose waters do not fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt.

You shall raise up

The foundations of many generations.

You shall be called

The repairer of the breach,

The restorer of streets to live in.”

Third Isaiah points out how the Israelites could become the light in the darkness. They had to remove the yoke from those around them. They had to stop pointing their fingers in a derisive contemptuous way. They had to stop speaking evil. Instead they should offer their food to the hungry and help the afflicted. Gloom could be turned to a noonday sun. Yahweh would guide them continually as their needs would be satisfied. Their bones would grow strong. They would become like watered gardens or unfailing spring waters. They were to rebuild the ancient ruins, thus becoming the foundation for many generations to come. They will be known as those who repaired the streets after the Exile in Jerusalem.

Ship’s wooden idols and providence (Wis 14:1-14:5)

“Again,

One preparing to sail,

About to voyage over raging waves,

Calls upon a piece of wood

More fragile than the ship that carries him.

It was desire for gain

That planned that vessel.

Wisdom was the artisan who built it.

But it is your providence,

O Father!

That steers its course.

Because you have given it a path in the sea,

A safe way through the waves.

You show that you can save it from every danger.

Thus even a person who lacks skill

May put to sea.

It is your will

That works of your wisdom

Should not be without effect.

Therefore people trust their lives

Even to the smallest piece of wood.

They pass through the billows

On a raft

So that they come safely to land.”

Apparently there was a custom to put a wooden idol on the front or the prow of the ship to protect them. Even today we see some sort of decoration on the front of ships. Obviously, this decorative idol was less firm than the whole ship. However, this author points out that it was the wisdom (σοφίᾳ) of the carpenter and the desire for gain that built the ships. God was the providence (πρόνοια) and father (πάτερ) of all who steered their course through the waves of the sea. Once again, this is a Greek philosophical and biblical concept about providence guiding the world. Thus even those who lacked skill were still protected by divine wisdom (τῆς σοφίας). People put trust in the tiniest piece of wood to guide them through rough patches on the sea.