Do not swear (Mt 5:34-5:36)

“But I say to you!

‘Do not swear at all!

Either by heaven,

It is the throne of God,

Or by the earth,

It is his footstool.

Do not swear

By Jerusalem!

It is the city

Of the great king.

Do not swear

By your head!

You cannot

Make one hair

White or black.’”

 

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως· μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ Θεοῦ·

μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ· μήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου Βασιλέως·

μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς, ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν.

 

Matthew has this unique presentation where Jesus has a solemn saying (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) about ending all oaths, which would have been radical for his time.  They were not to swear by anything at all (μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως).  They should not swear by heaven (μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ) since that is the throne of God (ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  They should not swear by earth (μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ) since that is the footstool for the feet of God (ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ).  They should not swear by Jerusalem (μήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα) since that is the city of the great king (ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου Βασιλέως).  They should not swear or take an oath by their own head (μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς) since they could not change one hair of their head to black or white (ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν).  This was a blanket statement.  There would be no more taking oaths, no more swearing by anything, anywhere.

 

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Ephraim was too open to foreigners (Hos 7:8-7:10)

“Ephraim mixes himself

With various people.

Ephraim is a cake

Not turned.

Foreigners devour

His strength.

But he does not know it.

Gray hairs

Are sprinkled upon him.

But he does not know it.

Israel’s pride

Testifies against him.

Yet they do not return

To Yahweh

Their God.

They do not seek him,

For all this.”

Ephraim was always mixing with other people. They often sought alliances with other countries. They were like a half-baked cake, only done on one side. These foreigners devoured Ephraim. Their hair was turning gray, but Ephraim did not know what was going on. Their pride testified against them. They failed to return to Yahweh, their God. Neither did they seek him out, when they were in trouble.

The king leaves his throne immediately (Dan 4:33-4:33)

“Immediately,

The sentence

Was fulfilled

Against King Nebuchadnezzar.

He was driven away

From human society.

He ate grass

Like an ox.

His body was bathed

With the dew of heaven.

His hair grew

As long

As eagles’ feathers.

His nails became

Like birds’ claws.”

The result happened immediately in a very descriptive way. As soon as the words were spoken, the sentence was fulfilled against King Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from human society to eat grass like an ox. His body bathed in the heavenly dew. This text explains that his hair grew as long as eagle feathers and his finger nails became like bird claws.

The vision of the glory of God (Ezek 8:2-8:4)

“I looked.

There was a figure

That looked

Like a human being.

Below what appeared

To be his loins

It was fire.

Above his loins

It was like

The appearance of brightness,

Like gleaming amber.

He stretched out

The form of a hand.

He took me

By a lock

Of my head.

The Spirit lifted me up

Between earth and heaven.

He brought me,

In visions of God,

To Jerusalem,

To the entrance

Of the gateway

Of the inner court

That faces north.

I went to the seat

Of the image of jealousy

That provokes jealousy.

The glory

Of the God

Of Israel

Was there,

Like the vision

That I had seen

In the valley.”

Ezekiel continued in the first person singular as he explained his vision. The description of the human figure and the fire is like that of chapter 1 of this book. There was a fire below his loins, with bright amber above his loins. Once again this Holy Spirit stretched out his hand. He lifted Ezekiel up by the hair on his head and brought him to Jerusalem in a vision. Ezekiel was at the entrance to the gateway of the inner court that faced north. He was put on the seat of jealousy. There the glory of the God of Israel appeared just as he had appeared in chapter 1 in the valley by the River Chebar.

The wonderful Jerusalem princes (Lam 4:7-4:7)

Zayin

“The princes of Jerusalem

Were purer

Than snow.

They were whiter

Than milk.

Their bodies were

More ruddy

Than coral.

Their hair was

Like sapphire.”

This author paints a glowing picture of the princes of Jerusalem. They were purer than snow and whiter than milk. They had a ruddy coral like body. Their hair was like a sapphire jewel. These were good looking dudes. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Zayin in this acrostic poem.

Description of the female lover (Song 6:4-6:7)

Male lover

“You are as beautiful as Tirzah.

My love!

You are as comely as Jerusalem.

You are as awesome

As an army with banners.

Turn away your eyes from me.

They disturb me.

Your hair is

Like a flock of goats,

Moving down the slopes of Gilead.

Your teeth are

Like a flock of shorn ewes,

That has come up from the washing.

They all bear twins.

Not one among them is bereaved.

Your cheeks are                               

Like halves of a pomegranate,

Behind your veil.”

Once again we have another poem that is pretty much a repeat of the opening of chapter 4. Here the male lover also proclaims the beauty of his lover. However, he compares her to the two capital cities of Judah and Israel, Tirzah in northern Israel, Jerusalem in southern Judah. In fact, he says that she is awesome like an army with banners. Instead of commending her eyes that were like doves, he wants her to turn her eyes away because they disturb him. He repeats what was in chapter 4 about her hair, teeth, and cheeks. However, he does not repeat what he said earlier in chapter 4 about her lips, mouth, neck, and breasts. Once again he talks about her hair being like a flock of goats coming down the mountain of Gilead. These goats were happy twins, while Gilead was east of the Jordan River. Her teeth were like a flock of young sheep that had just been washed. Her cheeks, although covered with the veil, were like half pomegranates, a fruit that was popular in Babylon.

Sleeping beauty (Song 5:2-5:5)

Female lover

“I slept.

But my heart was awake.

Listen!

My beloved is knocking.

‘Open to me!

My sister!

My love!

My dove!

My perfect one!

My head is wet

With dew.

My locks are wet

With the drops of the night.’

‘I had put off my garment.

How could I put it on again?

I had bathed my feet.

How could I soil them?’

My beloved thrust his hand

Into the opening.

My innermost being

Yearned for him.

I arose

To open to my beloved.

My hands dripped

With myrrh.

My fingers dripped

With liquid myrrh,

Upon the handles of the bolt.”

The female lover was sleeping, but her heart was awake. Then she heard her lover knocking at the door. He wanted her to open the door. He called her sister, lover, dove, and the perfect one. His head was wet with dew. His hair was wet with night rain drops. She had taken off her garments. Was she naked? She had washed her feet. He then put his hand into the opening. Meanwhile the female lover yearned for him. She got up to open the door to her beloved. Her hands and fingers were dripping with liquid myrrh as she reached the bolt on the door. She was anticipating a rendezvous with her lover.