Surrounded on every side (Lk 19:43-19:43)

“Indeed,

The days

Will come upon you,

When your enemies

Will set up ramparts

Around you.

They will hem you in

On every side.”

 

ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus remarked that bad days were coming to Jerusalem (ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ).  Jesus said that it would come to them when their enemies would put up a barricade against them (καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι).  They would surround them (καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε) so that they would be hemmed in on every side (καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν).  This is the only Greek biblical use of the word περικυκλώσουσίν that means to hem them in on every side, encircle, surround, or encompass.  Jesus was using the words and images of the ancient Israelite prophets against Jerusalem.  Isaiah, chapter 29:1-3, called Jerusalem Ariel, a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar.  Isaiah, warned Jerusalem about what was going to happen to it.  Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it.  They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust.  Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile.  Jeremiah, chapter 6:6-8, warned Jerusalem that its enemies were going to cut down trees in order to make a ramp siege against Jerusalem, because this city needed to be punished.  There was nothing but oppression and wickedness within her.  Jerusalem was a place of violence and destruction with sickness and wounded people all around.  Yahweh was going to turn away in disgust against Jerusalem. Thus, it would become a desolate uninhabited land, if it did not heed his warning.  Ezekiel, chapter 4:1-3, also condemned Jerusalem with Ezekiel’s symbolic action.  A voice told Ezekiel to be an expert model Lego builder of the siege of Jerusalem.  Ezekiel, the son of man, was to take a brick and portray the city of Jerusalem.  He was to put the siege works with a siege wall against this city.  He was to put a ramp and camps against this city with battering rams all around it.  Then he was to take an iron plate and make an iron wall between himself and the city, looking at it.  Thus, there was a state of siege, a sign for the house of Israel.  Ezekiel was part of the exiles from 598 BCE before the taking of Jerusalem and the second captivity in 587 BCE.  Of course, here this was allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Roman soldiers putting down a revolution in Judea.  Luke would have known about this at the time of his writing.  Have you ever seen a city destroyed?

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Christian Whole Life

There are material dimensions to our life.  We are flesh, not just a spiritual soul.  We know about physical beauty and wealth.  If you are wealthy and the right race, does that prove that God loves you?  In reality, the physical world is morally neutral and can be an asset or a liability.  A disability can lead either to self-pity or courage.  Sex can either be an act of love or manipulation.  Wealth can be a power to help others or a path to greed.  We have to accept ourselves and who we are.  Thus, we have to let God shine through us.  We must bring our senses of touch, smell, and hearing into our faith.  We have to appreciate the beauty in the world around us.  Christians believe in an incarnation theology.  Jesus was truly in this world.  Do not fear the body, imagination or the aesthetic sense.  Your imagination uses myths and images to help you describe God, whether it be in music, art, or literature.

The destruction of the various Egyptian city idols (Ezek 30:13-30:16)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I will destroy

The idols.

I will put an end

To the images

In Memphis.

There shall no longer

Be a prince

In the land of Egypt.

Thus I will put fear

Into the land of Egypt.

I will make Pathros

A desolation.

I will set fire

To Zoan.

I will execute

Acts of judgment

On Thebes.

I will pour my wrath

Upon Pelusium,

The stronghold of Egypt.

I will cut off

The hordes of Thebes.

I will set fire

To Egypt.

Pelusium shall be

In great agony.

Thebes shall be

Breached.

Memphis will face

Adversaries by day.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to destroy the idols and images of the city of Memphis, the capital of lower Egypt. They would face daily adversaries. There would be no longer a prince in Egypt. Yahweh was going to put fear into the people of Egypt. He was going to decimate Pathros and set a fire in Zoan, that later became known as Tanis, in the northeast Delta area. He was going to execute his judgment on Thebes, current day Karnak, by getting rid of the multitude of people there, when the walls would be broken down. He was going to pour out his wrath on the stronghold of Pelusium that was east of Zoan, so that it would be in great agony.

 

The ineptitude of the false idols (Isa 48:5-48:6)

“I declared them to you

From long ago.

Before they came to pass.

I announced them to you.

Thus you would not say.

‘My idol did them.

My carved image commanded them.

My cast image commanded them.’

You have heard!

Now see all this!

Will you not declare it?”

Once again, Second Isaiah has Yahweh defend himself against false idols. This must have been quite a problem. Yahweh had made this known a long time before it happened. Thus they could not say that it was their idols, the carved and cast images that had commanded and done this. Yahweh was clear. They had heard and saw all this, but they just did not understand what was happening. Now they have to declare it so.

Yahweh will answer you (Isa 30:19-30:22)

“Yes!

O people in Zion!

Inhabitants of Jerusalem!

You shall weep no more!

He will surely be gracious to you

At the sound of your cry.

When he hears it,

He will answer you.

Even though Yahweh may give you

The bread of adversity

With the water of affliction,

Yet your teacher

Will not hide himself any more.

But your eyes shall see your teacher.

When you turn to the right

Or when you turn to the left,

Your ears shall hear

A word behind you,

Saying.

‘This is the way!

Walk in it!’

Then you will defile

Your silver-covered idols.

Then you will defile

Your gold-plated images.

You will scatter them

Like filthy rags.

You will say to them.

‘Away with you!’”

This seems to be an oracle from the time of the Exile about the future restoration of Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem will weep no more, because Yahweh will be gracious to their cry and answer them. There will be adversity and affliction. However, your teacher will no longer hide himself from you as you will be able to see him. This teacher may have been a prophet. Then as you turn to the right or the left, you will hear his words from behind you telling you the correct way to walk on the straight path. That is when you will defile the silver and golden idols and images that you had. You will scatter them like filthy rages as you will throw them away. Apparently idol worship was prevalent in Jerusalem itself.

How a carpenter makes false idols (Wis 13:11-13:16)

“A skilled woodcutter

May saw down a tree

That is easy to handle.

He skillfully strips off all its bark.

Then with pleasing workmanship

He makes a useful vessel

That serves life’s needs.

He burns the castoff pieces of his work.

Thus he prepares his food.

He eats his fill.

But he takes a castoff piece

From among them,

That is useful for nothing,

A crooked stick,

Full of knots.

He carves with care in his leisure.

He shapes it with skill gained in idleness.

He forms it in the likeness of a human being.

He makes it like some worthless animal.

He gives it a coat of red paint.

He colors its surface red.

He covers every blemish in it with paint.

Then he makes a suitable niche for it.

He sets it in the wall.

He fastens it there with iron.

He takes thought for it.

Thus it may not fall.

Because he knows

That it cannot help itself.

It is only an image.

It has need of help.”

This is a satirical description of how these false images were made by a skilled woodcutter or carpenter. Obviously this carpenter makes some useful vessels for eating and other purposes. He takes a tree and strips the bark. He then burns the left over wood for cooking. However, he may take some of this useless crooked knotted wood and carve some images in his spare time. He will probably make an image of a human (εἰκόνι ἀνθρώπου) or an animal. Then he will paint it red to cover all the blemishes. After that, he will fasten it with iron on a wall niche in an area so that it will not fall off. He knows that his carved image needs help to sit on a wall. Clearly there is nothing divine about this process or the resulting useless image (εἰκὼν).

The penitential assembly at Mizpah (1 Macc 3:46-49)

“Then they gathered together. They went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. They fasted that day. They put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads. They tore their clothes. They opened the book of the law to inquire into those matters about which the gentiles were consulting the images of their gods. They also brought the vestments of the priesthood, the first fruits, and the tithes. They stirred up the Nazirites who had completed their days.”

The troops of Judas Maccabeus assembled at Mizpah, where Samuel had gathered the Israelites for repentance in 1 Samuel, chapter 7. Mizpah was close to Jerusalem. Like at the time of Samuel, they fasted, put on sackcloth, and tore their clothes in repentance. The Jewish people consulted their book of the law rather than the images of the divine oracles of the Greek gentiles. They had a cultic experience by bringing the vestments of the priests, even though there was no mention of any Levite priests here. They also brought first fruits and tithes. It is difficult to see what they did with these things since the Temple at Jerusalem had been destroyed. They also stirred up the Nazirites who had finished their obligations. Obviously this revolutionary group was inspired by the Nazirite movement as outlined in Numbers, chapter 6.