The Roman soldiers mock Jesus (Mt 27:28-27:30)

“They stripped Jesus.

They put a scarlet robe

On him.

They twisted

Some thorns

Into a crown.

They put it

On his head.

They put a reed

In his right hand.

They knelt

Before him.

They mocked him.

They said.

‘Hail!

King of the Jews!’

They spat

On Jesus.

They took the reed.

They struck him

On the head.”

 

καὶ ἐκδύσαντες αὐτὸν χλαμύδα κοκκίνην περιέθηκαν αὐτῷ,

καὶ πλέξαντες στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν ἐπέθηκαν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ κάλαμον ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ, καὶ γονυπετήσαντες ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ ἐνέπαιξαν αὐτῷ λέγοντες Χαῖρε, Βασιλεῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων,

καὶ ἐμπτύσαντες εἰς αὐτὸν ἔλαβον τὸν κάλαμον καὶ ἔτυπτον εἰς τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:17-19, but not in Luke.  In John, chapter 19:2-3, there is something similar.  Matthew said that these Roman soldiers stripped Jesus of his clothes (καὶ ἐκδύσαντες αὐτὸν).  They put a scarlet robe on him (κοκκίνην περιέθηκαν αὐτῷ), a Roman soldier’s tunic.  Thus, he might have looked like a king in a purple robe.  Then they twisted some thorns into a crown (καὶ πλέξαντες στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν).  They put this crown on his head (πέθηκαν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ) like a Roman laurel or gold crown.  They put a reed in his right hand (καὶ κάλαμον ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ) like a royal scepter.  Then these Roman soldiers knelt before him (καὶ γονυπετήσαντες ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ) as they mocked him, saying “Hail! King of the Jews (ἐνέπαιξαν αὐτῷ λέγοντες Χαῖρε, Βασιλεῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων)!”  Then they spat on Jesus (καὶ ἐμπτύσαντες).  They took the reed from his hand (εἰς αὐτὸν ἔλαβον τὸν κάλαμον) and struck him on the head (καὶ ἔτυπτον εἰς τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ).  They were mocking this pretended king of the Jews.

What the Pharisees wear (Mt 23:5-23:5)

“The Pharisees

And Scribes

Do all their deeds

To be seen by other men.

They make

Their phylacteries broad.

Their fringes

Are long.”

 

πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα,

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes did all their deeds to be seen by other men (πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  They broadened their phylacteries (πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν) and enlarged their long fringes or tassels (καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα) on their clothes.  Thus, they had distinctive garments that they wore.  These phylacteries were leather boxes that contained scriptural passages.  They would wear them on their forearms or head as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:9-16.  and Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-9, that was closely tied to the “Shema.”  They were to write these biblical sayings of the law on their hands and forehead.  On the other hand, the fringes or tassels on the bottom of their clothing was based on Numbers, chapter 15:37-41.  They made the tassels on the four corners of their garments, with a blue chord on the fringe of each corner.  This was to remember all the commandments of Yahweh, a nice little reminder about their obligations.  Ever today, some Jewish groups wear these tassels called the tzitzit.  The same command about tassels can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 22:12.  Apparently, the Pharisees may have been the only ones wearing these larger tassels and large prayer boxes.

The head of John the Baptist on a platter (Mt 14:9-14:11)

“King Herod was sorry.

Yet out of regard

For his oaths

And his guests,

He gave his command.

He sent his men.

He had John beheaded

In the prison.

His head

Was brought on a platter.

The dish was given

To the girl.

She then brought it

To her mother.”

 

καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι,

καὶ πέμψας ἀπεκεφάλισεν Ἰωάνην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ.

καὶ ἠνέχθη ἡ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἐδόθη τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ ἤνεγκεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

 

This beheading of John the Baptist can be found in Mark, chapter 6:25-28, and here.  King Herod was pained and sorry (καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς) for what he had just promised, much like in the story of Esther, chapter 5:3, where the king was willing to give Esther anything she wanted.  Yet out of regard for his oaths (διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους) and his guests reclining at table with him (καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι), Herod commanded his men to carry out this request (ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι).  He sent his men to behead John in the prison (καὶ πέμψας ἀπεκεφάλισεν Ἰωάνην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ) at Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  It is not clear whether they waited around for the men to come back with the head of John, which was one way to make sure a person was dead.  Then his head was brought on a platter or dish to Herod (καὶ ἠνέχθη ἡ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι).  He then gave it to the girl Salome (καὶ ἐδόθη τῷ κορασίῳ), who then gave it to her mother (καὶ ἤνεγκεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς), Herodias.  This was her revenge against John the Baptist because he had criticized her marriage to Herod.  Off with his head!

The sun beats on Jonah (Jon 4:7-4:8)

“But when dawn came up,

The next day,

God appointed a worm

That attacked the bush.

Thus,

It withered.

When the sun rose,

God prepared

A sultry east wind.

The sun beat down

On the head of Jonah,

So that he was faint.

He asked

That he might die.

He said.

‘It is better for me

To die

Than to live.’”

Jonah still had the same death wish that he had expressed earlier.  When dawn came up, God sent a worm to attack Jonah’s shade bush, so that the bush withered.  In addition to that, God sent a sultry east wind, so that the sun beat down on Jonah’s head.  He then became faint.  As earlier in this chapter, Jonah thought that it was better that he died rather sit in the beating hot sun.  Obviously, Jonah was not a very strong individual.

A description of the statue in the kings ‘s dream (Dan 2:32-2:33)

“The head

Of that statue

Was of fine gold.

Its breast,

With its arms,

Were of silver.

It middle,

With its thighs,

Were of bronze.

Its legs

Were of iron.

Its feet

Were partly of iron,

Partly of clay.”

Next, Daniel described this great big brilliant scary statue in the king’s dream. The head was made of fine gold, while its arms and breast were made of silver. His middle and thighs were bronze, while his legs were made of iron. However, his feet were part iron and part clay. This was an imposing figure made up of various different metals.

The recent bad activities of Jerusalem (Ezek 23:40-23:42)

“They even sent

For men

To come from far away.

A messenger

Was sent.

They came.

You bathed yourself

For them.

You painted your eyes.

You decked yourself

With ornaments.

You sat

On a stately couch.

You had a table

Spread before it.

You had placed

My incense

With my oil

On it.

The sound

Of a raucous multitude

Was around you.

Many of the rabble

Were brought in drunk

From the wilderness.

They put bracelets

On the arms

Of the women.

They put beautiful crowns

Upon their heads.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, seemed to be aiming these remarks at the people of Jerusalem for their recent behavior. She, Jerusalem, had sent messengers to invite men from far away to come to Jerusalem. In order to get ready for them, Jerusalem bathed herself, painted her eyes, and put on her colorful ornaments. She sat on a stately couch with a table before it. She placed Yahweh’s incense and oil on this table. Then one could hear the sound of a loud raucous mob that had gathered around her. Many of these drunkard rabble rousers from the wilderness put bracelets on her arms and beautiful crowns on her head. This seems to be an allusion to an invitation for drunken foreigners to come to Jerusalem to take advantage of her.

The shaving of Ezekiel’s hair (Ezek 5:1-5:1)

“You!

O son of man!

Take a sharp sword!

Use it

As a barber’s razor!

Run it over your head!

Run it over your beard!

Then take the balances

For weighing!

Divide the hair!”

Yahweh gave Ezekiel, the son of man, a series of commands to do another symbolic action. Ezekiel was to take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor on his head and beard. It must have been common for men to have a full beard with a full head of hair. Then Ezekiel was to weigh all his hair and divide it up.

The faces of the four living creatures (Ezek 1:10-1:11)

“As for the appearance

Of their faces,

Each had

The face

Of a human being

In front.

Each had

The face

Of a lion

On the right side.

Each had

The face

Of an ox

On the left side.

Each had

The face

Of an eagle

At the back.

Such were their faces.

Their wings

Were spread out above.

Each creature

Had two wings.

Each wing

Touched the wing

Of another.

The two wings

Covered their bodies.”

Each creature had the face of a human being in front. Then there was a face of a lion on the right side with a face of an ox on the left side. In the back was the face of an eagle. Interesting enough this is similar to the idea of cherubim in Assyrian and Babylonian times. They had a statue of a god who had the head of a human, the body of a lion, the paws of an ox, with wings. This same symbolism was later taken up as the symbols of the four Christian evangelists, as well as the 4 creatures of the apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. There is also the interpretation that these animal heads symbolize mobility, intelligence, and strength. Their wings were spread out above each of these creatures, so that they touched each other. Thus these wings covered the bodies of these creatures.

Gold (Lam 4:1-4:1)

Aleph

“How the gold

Has grown dim!

How the pure gold

Is changed!

The sacred stones

Lie scattered

At the head

Of every street.”

This lamentation begins with talk about the dimming gold and sacred stones scattered all over the streets, especially at the head of the street or the street corners. This is a reference to the holy treasures and vessels of the Temple that have been stolen due to the attack on Jerusalem. This first verse of this single verse acrostic poem starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Aleph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Jeremiah brings the Rechabites to the Temple (Jer 35:3-35:4)

“So I took Jaazaniah

The son of Jeremiah,

The son of Habazziniah,

With his brothers,

As well as all his sons,

With the whole house

Of the Rechabites.

I brought them

To the house of Yahweh,

Into the chamber

Of the sons of Hanan,

The son of Igdaliah,

The man of God.

This was near

The chamber of the officials,

Above the chamber of Maaseiah,

The son of Shallum,

Keeper of the threshold.”

Jeremiah went out and got the whole house of the Rechabites. This included Jaazaniah, who apparently was the head of this clan, since Jeremiah lists his father and grandfather. He and his brothers with their sons also came with Jeremiah. This seems to be the whole house of the Rechabites, a small group. There was no mention of their wives or daughters. When they got to the Temple, Jeremiah brought them to a special room or chamber that belonged to the sons of Hanan, whose father was Igdaliah, a man of God or a prophet. Thus some of the prophets may have had a room at the Temple, but Jeremiah does not seem to have one for himself. They were near the chamber of the other Temple officials or scholars. They were above where Maaseiah, the son of Shallum, the same name as King Jehoahaz (609 BCE), lived. Maaseiah was the keeper of the threshold or keeper of the door, a high ranking priest. Thus this episode explains something about what was going on in the Temple.