The Christmas scene birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7-2:7)

“Mary gave birth

To her first-born son.

She wrapped him

In bands

Of swaddling cloths.

She laid him

In a manger,

Because there was

No place

For them

In the inn.”

 

καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

 

Luke explained in great detail about the birth of Jesus, his clothing, and the manger, that has become the famous Christmas scene that most have come to know and love.  Matthew, chapter 2:1, had no details like this in his story about the birth of Jesus, while Mark and John had no infancy narratives at all.  In fact, Matthew said that the Magi visited Mary and the child in a house in chapter 2:11, not a manger.  Luke reported that Mary gave birth to her first-born son (καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον).  Did that imply that there were other children?  Within the Jewish tradition, the first-born male child would be dedicated to God with special legal and family rights, as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:2, where Yahweh got the first-born of everything, as a consecration to God.  In Numbers, chapter 3:12, the Levites take the place of the first born as a dedication to God.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 21:17, the first born had all the rights versus the other children.  Mary wrapped the baby Jesus with bands of cloth or swaddling clothes (καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν), as it is often called.  These tight bands of cloth kept the arms and legs of the newborn from wailing away, while also keeping the child warm.  Then Mary laid him in a manger (καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ), because there was no place for them in the lodging inn (διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι).  This manger (ἐν φάτνῃ) was a feeding trough for horses and cattle.  Thus, Jesus was born in a place where animals would feed.  He then would offer himself as the bread of life.  Apparently, they were in a barn because there were no appropriate lodging places for a pregnant expecting woman.  There was no indication that Joseph had other relatives in Bethlehem where they might stay.  Just by coincidence, I am posting this blog on December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve.

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Patrolling the earth (Zech 6:7-6:8)

“When the steeds came out,

They were impatient

To patrol the earth.

He said.

‘Go!

Patrol the earth!’

Thus,

They patrolled the earth.

Then he cried to me.

‘Look!

Those who go toward the north country

Have set the Spirit of Yahweh

At rest

In the north country.’”

The horses were impatient to get going to patrol the earth.  The angel told them to patrol the earth.  Thus, they went on their way, patrolling the whole world in every direction.  Then this angel told Zechariah that the black horses with their chariot going north had the Spirit of Yahweh, the Holy Spirit, so that they were going to bring rest to the north country.

The earth patrol (Zech 1:9-1:11)

“Then I said.

‘What are these?

My lord!’

The angel who talked with me

Said to me.

`I will show you

What they are.’

Then the man

Who was standing

Among the myrtle trees

Answered.

‘They are those

Whom Yahweh has sent

To patrol the earth.’

Then they spoke

To the angel of Yahweh,

Who was standing

Among the myrtle trees.

‘We have patrolled

the earth.

Look!

The whole earth

Remains at peace.’”

Zechariah had the same question, what was this all about?  The angel of Yahweh told Zechariah that he would explain what was going on.  Actually, the man standing among the myrtle trees did most of the talking.  He said that these horses with their riders were patrolling the earth, like a worldwide police force that Yahweh had sent out.  Then this man from the myrtle tree area spoke directly to the angel of Yahweh.  He reported that they had patrolled the whole earth and there was peace everywhere.  Apparently, during the early reign of the Persian King Darius I, there were very few disturbances.

The defeat of the enemies of Zion (Mic 4:11-4:13)

“Now many nations

Are assembled against you.

Saying.

‘Let her be profaned!

Let our eyes gaze upon Zion!’

But they do not know

The thoughts of Yahweh.

They do not understand

His plan.

He has gathered them

As sheaves

To the threshing floor.

Arise!

Thresh!

O daughter Zion!

I will make your horn iron.

I will make your hoofs bronze.

You shall beat in pieces

Many people.

You shall devote their gain

To Yahweh.

You shall devote their wealth

To Yahweh,

The lord of the whole earth.”

Yahweh, via Micah, warned that many nations and people would attack Jerusalem, Mount Zion.  Perhaps this is allusion to the Assyrians around 700 BCE.  However, as they came to gaze at Jerusalem, Yahweh had other plans.  He was going to treat these enemies of Israel as if they were wheat to be grinded down on the threshing floor.  Yahweh wanted the people of Zion to wake up and get ready.  They were to get the threshing machines ready.  The horses would have bronze hoofs and strong iron to do this grinding.  They were to beat these enemies into pieces.  Then they were to take their wealth to devote and donate it to Yahweh, the lord of the whole world.

The terrible punishment (Am 6:12-6:14)

“Do horses run

On rocks?

Does one plow the sea

With oxen?

But you have turned

Justice

Into poison.

You have turned

The fruit of righteousness

Into wormwood.

You who rejoice

In Lo-debar!

You who say,

‘Have we not

By our own strength

Taken Karnaim

For ourselves?’

Indeed,

I am raising up

Against you

A nation.

O house of Israel!’

Says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

They shall oppress you

From Lebo-Hamath

To the Wadi Arabah.”

Amos asked whether horses could run on rocks? Do you send oxen to plow the sea? While this may seem stupid, it is not sillier than turning justice into poison or the sweetness of righteousness into the bitterness of wormwood, which the Israelites had done. While the Israelite King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE) had captured Lo-debar and Karnaim on the west side of the Jordan, that happiness would come to an end. They thought that they had done it by themselves. Now Yahweh, the God of heavenly armies, was going to send the Assyrians to wipe out the northern kingdom of the house of Israel, from its northern border in Syria at Lebo-Hamath to the southern border of the Wadi Arabah. Yahweh, the God of heavenly hosts, would put an end to the northern kingdom of Israel.

Pity for Judah (Hos 1:7-1:7)

“But I will have pity

On the house of Judah.

I will save them

By Yahweh,

Their God.

I will not save them

By bow,

Or by sword,

Or by war,

Or by horses,

Or by horsemen.”

Apparently, this was a later insertion that Yahweh was still going to have pity on the southern kingdom of Judah. Yahweh, their God, would save them, but this was Yahweh speaking. He was not going to save them by bow, sword, war, horses, or horsemen. In other words, he would not interfere, but at the same time still save the house of Judah, because he loved and pitied them.

The western building in the Temple yard (Ezek 41:12-41:12)

“The building

That was facing

The temple yard

On the west side was

Seventy cubits wide.

The wall

Of the building was

Five cubits thick

All around.

Its depth was

Ninety cubits.”

This western building facing the Temple had the usual 5 cubits or 8 feet thick wall. However, it was a rectangular building of 70 cubits by 90 cubits, about 105 feet by 135 feet, one of the larger buildings mentioned so far. Perhaps this large building may have been a stable for horses.