The prophecy of Isaiah (Mk 7:6-7:7)

“Jesus said

To them.

‘Isaiah prophesied rightly

About you hypocrites!

As it is written.

‘This people honor me

With their lips,

But their hearts

Are far from me.

In vain

Do they worship me!

They teach

Human precepts

As doctrines.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν Ἡσαΐας περὶ ὑμῶν τῶν ὑποκριτῶν, ὡς γέγραπται ὅτι Οὗτος ὁ λαὸς τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ·

μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων·

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:7-9.  Mark indicated that Jesus said to these Pharisees (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that Isaiah had prophesied correctly (Καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν Ἡσαΐας) about them being hypocrites (περὶ ὑμῶν τῶν ὑποκριτῶν) as it was written (ὡς γέγραπται) in Isaiah.  Hypocrites were people who played a part in a drama, but who were not sincere.  This Greek quotation from Isaiah, chapter 29:13, is from the Septuagint, almost the same as in Matthew.  This oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, centered on insincere worship.  These Israelites adored Yahweh with their mouths and lips, but their hearts were far away.  They only praised the Lord because of human demands, as they recited rote prayers.  Jesus repeated these verses of Isaiah.  These people honored him with their lips or mouth (ὅτι Οὗτος ὁ λαὸς τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ).  However, their hearts were far away from him (ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  In a vain or useless way, they adored, worshiped, or reverenced him (μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με).  They were teaching doctrines (διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας) that were human precepts or ordinances (ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων).  Thus Jesus, via Mark and Isaiah, was wailing against false worship and human precepts pretending to be divine worship and divine teachings.

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The citation from Isaiah (Mk 4:12-4:12

“Thus,

They may indeed look,

But not perceive.

They may indeed listen,

But not understand.

Thus,

They may not

Turn again

To be forgiven.”

 

ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν, μή ποτε ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς.

 

This citation of Isaiah about the people unable to understand the meaning of parables can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels.  Matthew, chapter 13:14-16, had a longer citation from Isaiah with an introduction and a final comment, while Luke, chapter 8:10, had a short summary, like here in Mark.  This prophecy of Isaiah was from chapter 6:9-10, where Isaiah told the people that they were listening without comprehending.  They were looking without understanding.  Their hearts were dull.  Their eyes and ears were closed.  He wanted them not to look with their own eyes, but he wanted them to turn to Yahweh, so that they would be healed.  Mark indicated that they could see, but not perceive (καὶ βλέποντες βλέπωσιν).  They were experiencing and listening (καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες), but they could not hear or understand (ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν).  They would not turn back (καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν) and be forgiven (καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς).  The reason that Jesus spoke in parables was that some people would see, but not perceive. They would hear, but not understand what they heard.

The distressed city of Nineveh (Nah 2:6-2:9)

“The river gates

Are opened.

The palace trembles.

It is decreed

That the city

Be exiled.

Its slave women were

Led away,

Moaning

Like doves,

Beating their breasts.

Nineveh is

Like a pool

Whose waters

Run away.

‘Halt!

Halt!’

They cry.

But no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!

Plunder the gold!

There is no end

Of treasure.

There is an abundance

Of every precious thing.

Devastation!

Desolation!

Destruction!

Hearts faint!

Knees tremble!

All loins quake!

All faces grow pale!”

Nahum painted this picture of chaos in Nineveh.  He said that the river gates were opened, so that the palace and the people in it were trembling.  The people of this city were going to go into exile.  The slave women were led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.  The whole city of Nineveh had become like an overflowing pool.  People were saying stop, but no one was listening.  No one turned back as they keep on fleeing.  Meanwhile, there was a great plunder of their treasures of gold, silver, and the other abundant precious things.  Everywhere there was devastation, desolation, and destruction in this great city.  Hearts were fainting, while kneels were trembling.  Their faces grew pale as their loins shook.

The glittering sword (Ezek 21:15-21:17)

“‘Therefore hearts melt!

Many stumble!

At all their gates,

I have set the point

Of the sword.

Ah!

It is made

For flashing.

It is polished

For slaughter.

Attack to the right!

Engage to the left!

Attack wherever

Your edge is directed!

I too will strike

Hand to hand.

I will satisfy

My fury.’

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, concluded this little hymn to the sword. Hearts would melt. Many would stumble. Everywhere there would be the flashing of swords. Especially at the gates, there would be polished silver swords that led to slaughter and death, all around, to the right and the left, front and back. Swords would be pointed in all directions. Yahweh would also strike where he pleased in order to satisfy his anger.

No promise land (Ezek 20:15-20:16)

“Moreover

I swore to them

In the wilderness

That I would not

Bring them

Into the land

That I had given them.

That is a land flowing

With milk and honey,

The most glorious of all lands.

Because they rejected

My ordinances.

They did observe

My statutes.

They profaned

My Sabbath.

Their heart went

After their idols.”

Yahweh swore to them in the wilderness that he was not going to bring them into the land that he had given them, that land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. They had rejected his ordinances. They did not observe his statutes. They profaned the Sabbath. Their hearts went after their former idols. Things did not look good for these wilderness wanderers.

The strange creatures in the foreign temples (Bar 6:20-6:23)

“The idols are just

Like a beam

In the temple.

It is said

That their hearts

Are eaten away,

When crawling creatures

From the earth

Devour them,

Along with their robes.

They do not notice

When their faces

Have been blackened

By the smoke

Of the temple.

Bats,

Swallows,

Birds,

As well as cats

Alight on their bodies

As well as their heads.

From this

You will know

That they are not gods.

So do not fear them!”

This author elaborates about the conditions that idols have in the foreign temples. They are just like wooden beams in the temple. Their hearts are being eaten away by crawling creatures that devour them along with their precious robes. These false idols do not even notice when their faces become blackened by the smoke in the temple. There are all kinds of creatures all over them. Bats, cats, swallows, and other birds have landed on their heads and bodies. Thus they should know that these are not really gods. Thus, there is nothing to fear from them.

The sickness (Lam 5:17-5:18)

“Our hearts

Are sick

Because of this.

Our eyes

Have grown dim

Because of these things.

Mount Zion

Lies desolate.

Jackals prowl

Over it.”

The hearts of the people of Jerusalem are sick. Their eyes have grown dim. Mount Zion has become desolate. The famous jackals prowl all around the city.