Do not swear (Mt 5:34-5:36)

“But I say to you!

‘Do not swear at all!

Either by heaven,

It is the throne of God,

Or by the earth,

It is his footstool.

Do not swear

By Jerusalem!

It is the city

Of the great king.

Do not swear

By your head!

You cannot

Make one hair

White or black.’”

 

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως· μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ Θεοῦ·

μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ· μήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου Βασιλέως·

μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς, ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν.

 

Matthew has this unique presentation where Jesus has a solemn saying (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) about ending all oaths, which would have been radical for his time.  They were not to swear by anything at all (μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως).  They should not swear by heaven (μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ) since that is the throne of God (ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  They should not swear by earth (μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ) since that is the footstool for the feet of God (ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ).  They should not swear by Jerusalem (μήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα) since that is the city of the great king (ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου Βασιλέως).  They should not swear or take an oath by their own head (μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς) since they could not change one hair of their head to black or white (ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν).  This was a blanket statement.  There would be no more taking oaths, no more swearing by anything, anywhere.

 

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The anger of Yahweh (Lam 2:1-2:1)

Aleph

“How Yahweh,

In his anger,

Has humiliated

Daughter Zion!

He has thrown down

From heaven

To earth

The splendor of Israel.

He has not remembered

His footstool

In the day

Of his anger.”

The anger of Yahweh is the theme of this second lamentation. Yahweh has humiliated his favorite daughter Zion. The splendor of Israel has been cast aside from heaven to earth. Yahweh even forgot his footstool, the Temple, because he was so angry. This first verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Aleph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Temple worship (Isa 66:1-66:2)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Heaven is my throne.

The earth is my footstool.

What is the house

That you would build for me?

What is my resting place?

My hand has made

All these things.

So all these things are mine.’

Says Yahweh.

‘But this is the one

To whom I will look.

I will look to the humble.

I will look to the contrite in spirit.

I will look to the one

Who trembles at my word.’”

This is an oracle about Temple worship. Yahweh said that heaven was his throne, while the earth was his footstool. What kind of resting house should they build for him? Yahweh has made everything, so that everything was his. What was he looking for? He wanted someone who was humble, contrite in spirit, and trembled at his word.

Yahweh speaks (Ps 110:1-110:1)

A psalm of David

“Yahweh says to my lord.

‘Sit at my right hand.

I will make your enemies your footstool.’”

Psalm 110 is a short psalm of David, where Yahweh speaks directly to the king. This psalm has had a Christian messianic interpretation as the king is also a priest and a judge. Certain verses were often repeated in the New Testament writings. Yahweh says to the lord or king to sit at his right hand. Yahweh was going to make his enemies into his footstool.

Yahweh as king (Ps 99:1-99:5)

“Yahweh rules as king.

Let the peoples tremble!

He sits enthroned upon the cherubim.

Let the earth quake!

Yahweh is great in Zion.

He is exalted over all the peoples.

Let them praise your great and awesome name!

Holy is he!

Mighty King!

Lover of justice!

You have established equity.

You have executed justice.

You have executed righteousness in Jacob.

Extol Yahweh!

Our God!

Worship at his footstool!

Holy is he!”

Psalm 99 continues the theme of Yahweh as king. Once again there is no title to this psalm. Yahweh rules as king. The people tremble. He sits enthroned on the angelic cherubim in Zion over all the people. This holy king should be praised because his name is awesome. He is the mighty holy king who loves justice and equity. He has executed justice and righteousness upon the descendants of Jacob. We should extol holy Yahweh as our God when we worship at his footstool. We see the repeated refrain “holy is he.”