The servant of Yahweh (Matt 12:18-12:18)

“Here is my servant!

I have chosen him.

My beloved!

My soul is well pleased

With him.

I will put my Spirit

Upon him.

He shall proclaim justice

To the gentile nations.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου ὃν ᾑρέτισα, ὁ ἀγαπητός μου ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου· θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν, καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ.

 

A series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is in Isaiah, chapter 42:1.  Is it the country and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person?  Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic?  There are many chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah.  This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who he will uphold, since he is the chosen one.  Yahweh’s soul delights in him.  He puts his Spirit upon him.  This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice for all the nations.  At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes.  Mathew made a clear choice about this servant of Yahweh.  Jesus is the servant of God (Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου).  God has chosen him (ὃν ᾑρέτισα).  He is God’s beloved (ὁ ἀγαπητός μου).  The soul of God has delighted in Jesus (ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου).  God would put his Spirit on Jesus (θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  Jesus would proclaim a just judgment to the gentile nations (καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ).  The text that Matthew used is not an exact copy of the Greek or Hebrew text, but close enough.

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Azariah stands still to pray (Dan 3:1-3:2)

“They walked around

In the midst

Of the flames.

They were singing

Hymns to God.

They were blessing

The Lord.

Then Azariah stood still

In the fire.

He prayed aloud.”

Like the Book of Esther, this Book of Daniel has several sections that were not in the Hebrew text. Thus, they did not make it into the English King James Bible, and so became known as Apocrypha. This prayer of Azariah, one of the 3 men in the furnace, and then their joint prayer that follows, can be found in the Greek Septuagint, but not in the Hebrew text. The Bible of Jerusalem also includes it here. The New Oxford Standard lists it as “additions to Daniel, inserted between 3:23 and 3:24.” I have given it its own separate verse numbers as if it were complete in itself. The 3 men in the furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, walked around in the middle of the hot flames. They were singing hymns and blessing God, the Lord. Then Azariah, who was called Abednego, stood still. He uttered his prayer out loud. The rest of this section is his beautiful prayer.

The wicked (Prov 14:9-14:13)

“Fools mock at the guilt offering.

But the upright enjoy God’s favor.

The heart knows its own bitterness.

No stranger shares its joy.

The house of the wicked will be destroyed.

But the tent of the upright will flourish.

There is a way that seems right to a person.

But its end is the way to death.

Even in laughter

The heart is sad.

The end of joy is grief.”

Although the Hebrew text is difficult, it appears that fools do not see any value in the guilt offering. God scorns the wicked people, but he enjoys the upright ones. The heart knows the bitterness that no stranger can share in. The house of the wicked person will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will be fine. Sometimes we think that we are on the right path but it may actually lead to death. Even when some people laugh, their heart is sad, since the end of their joy leads to grief.

Queen Vashti refuses to come to the party (Esth 1:12-1:20)

“However, Queen Vashti refused to obey King Artaxerxes. She would not come with the eunuchs. This offended the king. He became furious. He said to his friends.

‘This is how Queen Vashti had answered me.

Give therefore your ruling and judgment on this matter.’

This was the king’s procedure to consult the sages who knew the law and custom. Arkesaeus, Sarathaeus, and Malesar were the governors of the Persians and the Medes. They were closest to the king as they sat beside him in the chief seats. They told him what must be done to Queen Vashti for not obeying the order that the king had sent her by the eunuchs. Then Muchaeus said to the king and the princes, as he had reported to them what the queen had said and how she had deified the king.

‘Queen Vashti has insulted not only the king,

But also the king’s governors and officials.

Just as she defiled King Artaxerxes,

So now she defiles the other ladies,

The wives of the Persian and Median governors,

On hearing what she said to the king,

They will likewise dare to insult their husbands.

King Artaxerxes commanded Queen Vashti

To be brought before him,

And she did not come.

If, therefore, it pleases the king,

Let him issue a royal decree,

Inscribed with the laws of the Medes and the Persians,

So that it may not be altered.

Queen Vashti may no longer come

Into the presence of King Artaxerxes.

Let the king give her royal rank to a woman better than she.

Let whatever law the king enacts be proclaimed to his kingdom.

Thus all women will give honor to their husbands,

Rich and poor alike.’”

There is a difference between the Hebrew and the Greek text. In the Hebrew text there are 7 princes of Persia and Media instead of 3 governors as here in the Greek text. The names are completely different. In both texts, Memucan, or as here Muchaeus, has a proposal for the king. However, in the Hebrew text, Memucan was one of the 7 princes. Here this Muchaeus just comes on the scene without any identification. The queen has defiled the king by not obeying. She has set a bad example for the wives of the other princes. He wants her dismissed. It is not clear why the king would want to get rid of his wife for just this one incident. There must have been other things going on.