And all the Jews,
Do not eat
Unless they wash
Of the elders.”
οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἐὰν μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων,
There is nothing like this elsewhere, because Mark was explaining this Jewish practice to his gentile Christian readers. Mark said that the Pharisees (οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι) and all the Jews (καὶ πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι) did not eat. unless they had washed their hands (μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν). Not washing hands was considered to be not upholding or a violation against the Jewish tradition of the elders or priests (κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων). The importance of this tradition was clearly seen in Matthew, chapter 15:2, in this more Jewish Christian writing. It is not clear that all Jews followed this tradition, but the Pharisees certainly did. Originally, this practice of washing hands before eating was what the priestly Levites did in the Temple to practice ritual purity as indicated in Exodus, chapter 30:17-21. Yahweh had told Moses that there should be a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing. Thus, Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet when they went into the meeting tent or the altar. The penalty for not washing your hands and feet was death under this perpetual ordinance. However, the Pharisaic oral tradition, or the tradition of the elders, had extended this practice to individual and their own homes.
My servant shall prosper.
He shall be exalted.
He shall be lifted up.
He shall be very high.
There were many
Who were astonished at him.
His appearance was so marred,
Beyond human semblance.
His form was beyond
That of mortals.
Thus he shall startle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths
Because of him.
What had not been told them,
They shall see.
What they have not heard,
They shall contemplate.”
Now Second Isaiah has the 4th chant of the suffering servant. Here there is a painful description of this servant of Yahweh, who is going to prosper, be exalted, and be lifted up very high. Many people were astonished at his marred figure that was beyond human semblance. He hardly looked human, so that he startled many nations. Kings shut their mouths. They suddenly saw things that they did not know about. They contemplated things that they had not heard. Was this an individual or the country of Israel? Obviously the text is not clear, except to say that he or Israel was badly disfigured, but that he or they would prosper anyway.
“‘I am Yahweh!
I have called you in righteousness!
I have taken you by the hand!
I have kept you!
I have designed you
As a covenant to the people.
I have designed you
As a light to the nations.
You are to open the eyes
That are blind.
You are to bring out the prisoners
From the dungeons.
You are to bring out from the prisons
Those who sit in darkness.
I am Yahweh!
That is my name!
I give to no other!
I do not give my praise to idols!
The former things have come to pass.
I now declare the new things.
Before they spring forth
I will tell you of them.’”
In this section of Second Isaiah, Yahweh apparently speaks directly to the people of Israel, rather than to an individual person. He is Yahweh. He has called his people in righteousness. He took them into his hand. He kept them with a covenant. They were to be the light to the nations in order to give sight to the blind as well as bring out prisoners from dungeons and dark prisons. He is Yahweh. That is his name and his glory. He has no other names, nor does he praise any other idols. He has told you about the past, but he will tell you about things to come before they happen.
“Here is my servant!
I uphold him!
My soul delights in him.
I have put my Spirit upon him!
He will bring forth justice
To the nations.”
A whole series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is. Is it the county and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person? Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic? There are at least 4 of these chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah. This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who will be upheld by him since he is the chosen one. Yahweh’s soul delights in him. He puts his Spirit upon him. This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice to all the nations. At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes. Being the chosen one, however, was a term used for Israel quite often.
A psalm of David, for the memorial offering
Do not rebuke me in your anger!
Do not discipline me in your wrath!
Your arrows have sunk into me,
Your hand has come down on me.”
This Psalm 38 is once again a psalm of David, but it had the unique title of a memorial offering. It is the prayer of an individual in distress. He was either sick or under personal attack, much like Job. The resemblance between Job and some of these psalms is remarkable. This is a direct prayer to Yahweh. The psalmist wanted Yahweh not to be angry with him. He wanted Yahweh not to discipline him. Yahweh’s arrows had hit him. Yahweh’s hand had come down on him.
“They turned aside from following him.
They had no regard for any of his ways.
They caused the cry of the poor to come to him.
He heard the cry of the afflicted.
When he is quiet,
Who can condemn?
When he hides his face,
Who can behold him?
Whether it is a nation or an individual,
The godless man should not reign.
Those who ensnare the people should not reign.”
Elihu wanted to point out that the godless wicked person should not be in charge. They have no regard for God’s ways. They do not care about the poor or the afflicted. How can you condemn someone when they are quiet and hiding their face, whether it be a nation or an individual? Clearly they should not rule others.