Send two disciples from Bethpage (Mt 21:1-21:1)

“When they had come

Near Jerusalem,

They had reached Bethphage,

At the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus sent two disciples.”

 

Καὶ ὅτε ἤγγισαν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Βηθφαγὴ εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν, τότε Ἰησοῦς ἀπέστειλεν δύο μαθητὰς

 

Both Mark, chapter 11:1, and Luke, chapter 19:29, are almost word for word to what is here in Matthew.  Thus, when they got near to Jerusalem (Καὶ ὅτε ἤγγισαν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα), Jesus then sent out two of his disciples (τότε Ἰησοῦς ἀπέστειλεν δύο μαθητὰς).  They were staying at Bethphage (καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Βηθφαγὴ), a village on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives (εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν), not far from Jerusalem.

Curing the blind men (Mt 9:29-9:31)

“Then Jesus

Touched their eyes.

Saying.

‘According to your faith,

Let it be done to you.’

Their eyes

Were opened.

Jesus

Sternly ordered them.

‘See that no one knows it.’

But they went away.

They spread the news

About him

Throughout that district.”

 

τότε ἥψατο τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῶν λέγων Κατὰ τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν γενηθήτω ὑμῖν.

καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί. καὶ ἐνεβριμήθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων Ὁρᾶτε, μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω.

οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες διεφήμισαν αὐτὸν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ γῇ ἐκείνῃ.

 

Although there are similar stories about curing a blind man in Jericho in Mark, chapter 10:52, and Luke, chapter 18:42-43, but also in Matthew, chapter 20:33-34, here is the only time that the cured blind men were not to let anyone know about it.  Jesus healed the sight of these blind men by touching their eyes (τότε ἥψατο τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῶν).  Jesus said that their faith had let him heal them (λέγων Κατὰ τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν γενηθήτω ὑμῖν.).  Their eyes were opened (καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί), so that they could see.  However, Jesus strongly ordered them (καὶ ἐνεβριμήθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων) not to tell anyone, since no one should know about it (Ὁρᾶτε, μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω).  Instead, these newly sighted former blind men left (οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες) and told everyone in the whole land or district area everything that had happened (διεφήμισαν αὐτὸν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ γῇ ἐκείνῃ).  There was no mention of secrecy in the other accounts of this healing, but that was not an uncommon warning.  Earlier in chapter 8:4, Matthew had Jesus tell the cured leper not to say anything to anyone.  He did not want anyone to know about his power.  This is often referred to as the messianic secret.

The believing blind men (Mt 9:28-9:28)

“When Jesus

Entered the house,

The blind men

Came to him.

Jesus said to them,

‘Do you believe

That I am able to do this?’

They said to him.

‘Yes!

Lord!’”

 

ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε.

 

Not only are there similar stories about healing the blind men found in Mark, chapter 10:49-52, and Luke, chapter 18:40-43, but also in Matthew, chapter 20:32-33, but the other more elaborate stories took place in Jericho, and not as here in Galilee.  Their faith was at the heart of this healing.  It is not clear whose house Jesus went into, but he did go into a house (ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν).  These blind men followed him into the house (προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί).  Then Jesus asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) if they believed that he was capable of healing them (Πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι).  They responded that they believed in him the Lord (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε).  Matthew has them refer to Jesus at “Lord (Κύριε).”  That could mean an important person or literally the Lord or God.  Perhaps the latter is intended here.

The two blind men (Mt 9:27-9:27)

“As Jesus went on

From there,

Two blind men

Followed him.

They cried loudly.

‘Have mercy on us!

Son of David!’”

 

Καὶ παράγοντι ἐκεῖθεν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἠκολούθησαν δύο τυφλοὶ κράζοντες καὶ λέγοντες Ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς, υἱὸς Δαυείδ.

 

Not only are there similar stories about blind men found in Mark, chapter 10:46-48, and Luke, chapter 18:35-38, but also in Matthew, chapter 20:29-30, but the other Matthew story took place in Jericho, and not as here in Galilee, near Capernaum.  Jesus was going on his way (Καὶ παράγοντι ἐκεῖθεν), as two blind men were following him (τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἠκολούθησαν δύο τυφλοὶ).  They cried out loudly to Jesus to have mercy on them (κράζοντες καὶ λέγοντες Ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς).  They called Jesus the Son of David (υἱὸς Δαυείδ).  The historical son of David was Solomon who also had healing powers.  “Son of David (υἱὸς Δαυείδ)” was also a royal or messianic name.  Blind people (τυφλοὶ) were considered punished for lacking some spiritual uprightness, since there was a connection between spiritual and physical sickness.

The evil in Gilgal (Hos 9:15-9:15)

“Every evil

Of theirs

Began at Gilgal.

There I began

To hate them.

Because of the wickedness

Of their deeds,

I will drive them

Out of my house.

I will love them

No more.

All their officials

Are rebels.”

Gilgal was the original west bank camping grounds, east of Jericho, in Joshua, chapters 4-5. There Saul was also anointed king in 1 Samuel, chapter 11, despite the fact that Samuel was opposed to him. Gilgal was, nevertheless, the home of the prophets Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 2. Yahweh, via Hosea, said that all the evil things began here at Gilgal, as they entered the promised land. Yahweh began to hate the Israelites there, because of their wicked deeds. Yahweh was going to drive them out of his house, because he was not going to love them anymore. All their officials were rebels against Yahweh.

Judah should watch out also (Hos 4:15-4:15)

“Though you play the prostitute,

O Israel!

Do not let Judah

Become guilty!

Do not enter

Into Gilgal!

Do not go up

To Beth-aven!

Do not swear!

‘As Yahweh lives.’”

Yahweh, via Hosea, told northern Israel that she had become a prostitute. Now he warned that the southern Judah kingdom should not become guilty. They should not go to Gilgal, that was just east of Jericho. Neither should they go to Beth-aven or Bethel, the place of worship of the northern Israelites. They should not swear by Yahweh.

 

Yahweh will reconcile with Israel (Hos 2:14-2:15)

“‘Therefore,

I will now allure her.

I will bring her

Into the wilderness.

I will speak tenderly

To her.

From there,

I will give her

Her vineyards.

I will make

The Valley of Achor

A door of hope.

There she shall respond

As in the days

Of her youth,

As at the time.

When she came out

Of the land of Egypt.’”

Now Yahweh was going to lure her back into the wilderness. He was going to speak tenderly to her. Her vineyards would be returned. The Valley of Achor, near Jericho, would be a door of hope for her, instead of a place of sin. Then Israel would respond, as in the days of her youth in the wilderness, after she left Egypt.

Shiloh (Jer 7:12-7:15)

“‘Go now to my place

That was in Shiloh.

There I made

My name dwell at first.

See what I did to it,

Due to the wickedness

Of my people Israel.

Now,

Because you have done

All these things

Watch out!’

Says Yahweh.

‘When I spoke to you persistently,

You did not listen.

When I called you,

You did not answer.

Therefore I will do

To the house

That is called by my name,

In which you trust,

What I did to Shiloh.

This is the place

That I gave to you

As well as your ancestors.

I will do

Just what I did to Shiloh.

I will cast you out of my sight.

I will do

Just as I cast out all your kinsmen,

All the offspring of Ephraim.’”

Shiloh had been an ancient Canaanite shrine and then an Israelite shrine until it was destroyed by the Philistines around 1050 BCE. Shiloh was in the Ephraim territory, north of Bethel and Jericho, about 20 miles north of Jerusalem. It had been an Israelite shrine where the Ark of the Covenant was until Jerusalem was built by King David and King Solomon. Here Yahweh reminds Jeremiah that his name had lived at Shiloh. However, due to the wickedness of those people, he changed his living place to Jerusalem. Like them, these people in Jerusalem were not listening when Yahweh called. They did not answer him. Thus he was going to do to Jerusalem what he had done to Shiloh. He was going to cast them all out of his sight, as he had done to Ephraim and all its descendants.

The tall growth of wisdom (Sir 24:13-24:14)

“‘I grew tall

Like a cedar in Lebanon.

I grew tall

Like a cypress on the heights of Hermon.

I grew tall

Like a palm tree in En-gedi.

I grew tall

Like rosebushes in Jericho.

I grew tall

Like a fair olive tree in the field.

I grew tall

Like a plane tree beside water.’”

Sirach continues with his personification of wisdom in the first person singular. Wisdom points out how she has grown tall like the various trees around Israel. First, she was tall like the cedar and cypress trees in the northern area of Lebanon and Hermon. Then she was like the palm trees on the west side of the Dead Sea in En-gedi and the rosebushes nearby in Jericho. Finally, she was tall like the various planted olive trees and the trees that were planted beside water. Wisdom was a like a tall tree, no matter where she was.

The attack of Judas Maccabeus on Caspin (2 Macc 12:13-12:16)

“Judas Maccabeus also attacked a certain city that was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls. Inhabited by all sorts of gentiles, its name was Caspin. Those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions, behaved most insolently toward Judas Maccabeus and his men. They railed at them, even blaspheming and saying unholy things. But Judas Maccabeus and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without battering-rams or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously upon the walls. They took the town by the will of God. They slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile wide, appeared to be running over with blood.”

This Caspin may be the same as Chaspho in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. The only apparent reason for attacking this strongly fortified town was because they had some gentiles there. However, for some reason, the people in this town were insolent to Judas Maccabeus and his men. They blasphemed and said unholy things. Judas Maccabeus, after calling on the sovereign Lord, rushed the walls of this town named Caspin. Once again, by the will of God, they took this town like in the days of Joshua at Jericho. Here they killed so many people that a lake a quarter of a mile wide looked like it was running over with blood.