The prayer of Zechariah (Lk 1:68-1:68)

“Blessed be the Lord!

The God of Israel!

He has looked favorably

On his people.

He has redeemed them.”

 

Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,

 

Luke then had this so-called Benedictus prayer, based on the Latin translation of Εὐλογητὸς.  At the same time, this prayer is a prophesy also.  First, Zechariah was thankful for all the people of Israel, not just himself.  He used the familiar blessing that David said to Abigail in 1 Samuel, chapter 25:32, and to Solomon in 1 Kings, chapter 1:48.  Solomon used this same blessing in 1 Kings, chapter 8:35.  He said that the Lord was blessed (Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος).  He was the God of Israel (ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ) who had visited, intervened, or looked favorably (ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο) on his people (τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,), since he has saved or brought them redemption (καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν).  Zechariah had a sense of what the scope of John’s birth would be on all Israel, not just his family.  He implied that salvation or redemption had already taken place with the birth of his son John, not waiting for Jesus.

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Elizabeth wants to name him John (Lk 1:60-1:60)

“But his mother said.

‘No!

He is to be

Called

John.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεῖσα ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ εἶπεν Οὐχί, ἀλλὰ κληθήσεται Ἰωάνης.

 

Luke said that Elizabeth, the mother of the child, intervened (καὶ ἀποκριθεῖσα ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ).  She said no (εἶπεν Οὐχί), that his name was not going to be Zechariah, but he would be called John (ἀλλὰ κληθήσεται Ἰωάνης).  I guess that during the 9 months of pregnancy, the 2 parents had agreed on what Zechariah had been asked to do.

Christians reading the Old Testament

The Old Testament Hebrew Bible raises questions of interpretation for a Christian.  To what extent am I, as a Christian, projecting Christian views and values on the children of Israel, the people of Israel, the Israelites?  There are various terms that translators have used to describe the slowing forming group of Yahweh believers over three thousand years ago.  Yahweh was their God and intervened in their lives.  They had a special relationship or covenant with him.  The Hebrew sacred writings were incorporated into Christianity because all the early Christians were Jewish.  However, the writings were not originally meant for Christians, but for the Hebrew people.  Can I really fully understand the Semitic thought process of three thousand years ago?  Will I be able to appreciate how important the promised land of Israel was to Jewish people?  What role did the exodus from Egypt, the Temple, the exile, and the various codes play in their lives?  I can try, but I doubt if I will be fully successful.

Yahweh clothes himself with righteousness (Isa 59:15-59:17)

“Yahweh saw this.

It displeased him

That there was no justice.

He saw that there was no one.

He was appalled

That there was no one to intervene.

Thus his own arm brought him victory.

His righteousness upheld him.

He put on righteousness

Like a breastplate.

He put on a helmet of salvation

Upon his head.

He put on garments of vengeance

For clothing.

He wrapped himself in fury

As a mantle.”

Yahweh saw all this evil. He was displeased since there was no justice. He was appalled that no one had intervened in that situation. Thus he was going to bring victory with his mighty arm. Righteousness would be his breastplate out front. He would wear the helmet of salvation on his head. His garments would be for vengeance. His fury would be in his mantle coat. Yahweh, according to Third Isaiah, was dressed like a warrior ready for battle wearing the proper upright clothes.

Dislike of the Promised Land (Ps 106:24-106:27)

“Then they despised the pleasant land.

They had no faith in his promise.

They grumbled in their tents.

They did not obey the voice of Yahweh.

Therefore he raised his hand.

He swore to them.

He would make them fall in the wilderness.

He would disperse their descendants among the nations.

He would scatter them over the lands.”

Based on Numbers, chapter 14, the Israelites were reluctant to enter the Promised Land. In fact, some wanted to return to Egypt. They had no faith in the promise of Yahweh. They grumbled. They said that they would not obey the voice of Yahweh. This made Yahweh angry. Once again, Moses intervened. This time Yahweh said that the grumblers would not see the Promised Land. Instead they would die in the wilderness before they got there. On top of that, their descendents would be scattered among many nations and various lands. This seems to be a justification for the later Exile.