Compassion for the sheep (Mt 9:36-9:36)

“Jesus saw

The crowds.

He had compassion

For them.

Because they were harassed.

They were helpless,

Like sheep

Without a shepherd.”

 

Ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἦσαν ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐρριμμένοι ὡσεὶ πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα.

 

This section about compassion for the sheep can in found in Mark, chapter 6:34.  Jesus saw the crowds (Ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους).  He had compassion or pity on them (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν).  They were harassed or troubled (ὅτι ἦσαν ἐσκυλμένο).  They were helpless castoffs (καὶ ἐρριμμένοι).  They were like sheep without a shepherd protector (ὡσεὶ πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα).

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The weakened king of Babylon (Jer 50:41-50:43)

“Look!

A people

Is coming

From the north.

A mighty nation

With many kings

Is stirring

From the farthest parts

Of the earth.

They lay hold of bow.

They have spears.

They are cruel.

They have no mercy.

Their sound is

Like the roaring sea.

They ride on horses.

They are equipped

Like a warrior for battle,

Against you.

O daughter!

Babylon!

The king of Babylon

Heard news of them.

His hands fall helpless.

Anguish seized him.

He had pain

Like a woman in labor.’”

This section is almost word for word from chapter 6 of this work about the coming invasion of Israel. Yahweh here tells the Babylonians that an invasion is coming from the northern country, but it was actually the eastern Persians. This invader was a great nation coming from far away, but it actually was right next to them. They had bows and arrows along with spears. They were a cruel merciless well equipped group whose horses made the sounds of a roaring sea. When the king of the Babylonians heard the news of this invasion, he felt helpless and anguished. He had pains like a woman in labor. Yahweh called Babylon “daughter,” a name that he had called Israel earlier in this work.

The reaction to this report (Jer 6:24-6:26)

“We have heard news of them.

Our hands fall helpless.

Anguish has taken hold of us.

We have pain

Like a woman in labor.

Do not go into the field!

Do not walk on the road!

The enemy has a sword.

Terror is on every side.

O daughter of my people!

Put on sackcloth!

Roll in ashes!

Make mourning

Like for an only child!

Make mourning

Like most bitter lamentations.

Suddenly the destroyer

Will come upon us.”

When the Israelites heard the news of this invasion, they felt helpless and anguished. They were pained like a woman in labor. They were told not to go into the fields or on the roads because terror or fear was everywhere. The sword was raised against them. Against all this, Jeremiah wanted these Israelites to put on sackcloth, roll in ashes, and go into mourning, as if they had lost their only child. They should lament because the destroyer would suddenly come upon them.

Bless the king (Ps 72:1-72:4)

A psalm of Solomon

“Give the king your justice!

O God!

Give your righteousness

To a king’s son!

May he judge your people

With righteousness!

May he judge your poor

With justice!

May the mountains yield prosperity

For the people!

May the hills yield

In righteousness!

May he defend

The cause of the poor people!

May he give

Deliverance to the needy!

May he

Crush the oppressor!”

Psalm 72 is a long blessing for a king. The only name mentioned is King Solomon, so that it might have been on his coronation. This is more or less a portrait of an ideal king. In this first section there is an emphasis on just judgments, especially for the helpless and the weak. The king is to rule with the justice and the righteousness of God. The mountains and the hills were to bring prosperity to the people. However, the primary task of the king was to defend the poor and the needy so that they would be delivered from their oppressors.

The lament of the poor (Ps 10:14-10:14)

“But you do see!

Indeed,

You note the trouble and the grief!

You may take it into your hands!

The helpless commit themselves to you.

You have been the helper of the orphans.”

However, Yahweh does see what is going on. He notes the trouble and the grief of the poor and the orphans. Yahweh has to take them into his own hands. The helpless rely on Yahweh because he has been a helper of the orphans. Yahweh always seems to help the weak ones.

The helpless think that God has forgotten them (Ps 10:10-10:11)

“They stoop.

They crouch.

The helpless fall by their might.

They think in their heart.

‘God has forgotten.

God has hidden his face.

God will never see them.’”

The helpless fall because the wicked stoop, crouch and attack. The helpless ones think that God has forgotten about them. God has hidden his face so that he cannot see them.

The mutilation and killing of the spokesman for the sons (2 Macc 7:3-7:6)

“The king fell into a rage. He gave orders to have pans and caldrons heated. These were heated immediately. He commanded that the tongue of their spokesman be cut out. They were to scalp him. Then they were to cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of the brothers and the mother looked on. When he was utterly helpless, the king ordered them to take him to the fire, still breathing, and to fry him in a pan. The smoke from the pan spread widely, but the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly. They said.

‘The Lord God is watching over us.

In truth he has compassion on us.

As Moses declared in his song

That bore witness against the people to their faces,

When he said,

He will have compassion on his servants.’”

The king seems to be personally present at this torture, even though his representatives carry out the action, either in Jerusalem or Antioch. This story of the 7 sons was the principal subject of the later 4 Maccabees, but there was no mention of it 1 Maccabees. This is a particularly brutal story. First they heated up the pans. Then they cut the tongue, the scalp, the hands, and the feet of the spokesperson, while the others looked on. They then fried him on the heated pan while he was still breathing. However, the brothers encouraged each other. They knew the Lord would have compassion on them, based on the Canticle of Moses in Deuteronomy, chapter 32.