Great rejoicing (Lk 1:14-1:14)

“You will have

Joy

And gladness.

Many people

Will rejoice

At his birth.”

 

καὶ ἔσται χαρά σοι καὶ ἀγαλλίασις, καὶ πολλοὶ ἐπὶ τῇ γενέσει αὐτοῦ χαρήσονται

 

Luke had the angel state the obvious.  Zechariah would have joy and gladness (καὶ ἔσται χαρά σοι καὶ ἀγαλλίασις).  The Greek word χαρά for joy can also mean grace.  Many people would rejoice at this birth of John (καὶ πολλοὶ ἐπὶ τῇ γενέσει αὐτοῦ χαρήσονται).  This would be a happy graced moment for him and many others.  The birth of a child in any family is very happy moment.

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The time and place of Ezekiel’s first vision (Ezek 1:1-1:3)

“In the thirtieth year,

In the fourth month,

On the fifth day

Of the month,

As I was among the exiles

By the river Chebar,

The heavens

Were opened.

I saw visions

Of God.

This was the fifth day

Of the month

Of the fifth year

Of the exile

Of King Jehoiachin.

The word of Yahweh

Came to

The priest Ezekiel,

The son of Buzi,

In the land

Of the Chaldeans

By the river Chebar.

The hand

Of Yahweh

Was on me there.”

The dating is very precise here. This is the 30th year, probably from his birth around 623 BCE during the reign of King Josiah. Ezekiel writes in the first person singular. He said that he was among the exiles at the Chebar River, a small canal near Erech that ran into the Euphrates River in northern Babylon. On the 5th day of the 4th month the heavens opened to provide visions of God to him.  Once again, there is precise information about the date, as this was the 5th year of the exile of King Jehoiachin that had occurred in 598 BCE. Thus this year would have been 593 BCE. Ezekiel’s father was Buzi, a Jerusalem priest, so that he was from a family of priests. The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar. Yahweh put his hand on him. Thus the opening scene is set with this 30 year old exiled Jerusalem priest by a river bank with the rest of the exiles, when a heavenly vision appeared to him.

Jeremiah curses the day he was born (Jer 20:14-20:18)

“Cursed be the day

On which I was born!

The day

When my mother bore me,

Let it not be blessed!

Cursed be the man

Who brought the news to my father!

‘A child is born to you,

A son.’

This made him very glad.

Let that man be

Like the cities

That Yahweh overthrew without pity!

Let him hear a cry in the morning!

Let him hear an alarm at noon!

Because he did not kill me

In the womb.

Thus my mother would have been

My grave.

Her womb would be forever great.

Why did I come forth

From the womb?

To see toil?

To see sorrow?

Why do I spend my days in shame?”

It is an unusual idea to curse one’s own existence. The only comparable thought would have been in Job, chapter 3, where he cursed the day he was conceived and the day he was born. This is a lament about the personal problems in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He wanted the day of his birth not to be a celebration or blessing, but a cursed day. He even wanted the man who told his father about the birth of his son to be cursed also. Jeremiah wanted that man to be like Yahweh’s destroyed cities. He wanted him to hear cries in the morning and at noon. They should have killed him in the womb so that his mother’s womb would have been his grave. This is an interesting thought for many anti-abortionists. Jeremiah wondered why he had come forth from the womb only to have a life of toils and sorrow, filled with shame. This is a very depressing idea, much like the poor depressed Job.

Jeremiah (Sir 49:6-49:7)

“They set fire

To the chosen city

Of the sanctuary.

They made its streets desolate,

As Jeremiah had foretold.

They had mistreated him.

Even though in the womb,

He had been consecrated

A prophet.

He was to pluck up.

He was to ruin.

He was to destroy.

Likewise,

He was to build.

He was to plant.”

Once again, Sirach could rely on the biblical Book of Jeremiah, the prophet. The prophet Jeremiah (646-574 BCE) lived around the time of the captivity and fall of the Kingdom of Judah (587 BCE). He had foretold that the Temple sanctuary would be destroyed. He predicted that the streets of Jerusalem would be desolate. He was also mistreated by his fellow Israelites, even though he was a prophet from his birth. He uttered oracles about ruining, destroying, building, and planting. He is considered the 2nd of the great prophets after Isaiah.

Rescue me from the wicked (Ps 71:4-71:6)

“Rescue me!

O my God!

From the hand of the wicked!

Rescue me!

From the grasp of the unjust!

Rescue me!

From the cruel man!

Yahweh!

You are my hope!

You are my trust!

From my youth!

Yahweh!

I have leaned upon you from my birth.

You took me

From my mother’s womb.

My praise is continually of you.”

Another common theme is the rescue from the hands of the wicked. This psalmist is no exception. He wants to be rescued and saved from the wicked, the unjust, and the cruel ones. This psalmist has hoped and trusted in Yahweh from the day of his birth to the present time. All his life he has continually praised God.

The protection of God (Ps 22:9-22:11)

“Yet it was you who took me from the womb.

You kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

On you I was cast from my birth.

Since my mother bore me

You have been my God.

Do not be far from me!

Trouble is near.

There is no one to help.”

God took David or this psalmist from the womb and brought him to his mother’s breasts. From his birth, God had protected him. There had been only one God in his life. He asked that God be not far from him, whenever there was trouble because there was no one else to help him.