The famine at the time of Elijah (Lk 4:25-4:26)

“In truth!

I say to you!

There were many widows

In Israel

At the time of Elijah.

The heavens

Were shut closed for

Three years and six months.

There came

A great famine

Over all the land.

Yet Elijah was sent

To none of them,

Except to a widow

At Zarephath,

In Sidon.”

 

ἐπ’ ἀληθείας δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, πολλαὶ χῆραι ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡλείου ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτε ἐκλείσθη ὁ οὐρανὸς ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία καὶ μῆνας ἕξ, ὡς ἐγένετο λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν

καὶ πρὸς οὐδεμίαν αὐτῶν ἐπέμφθη Ἡλείας εἰ μὴ εἰς Σάρεπτα τῆς Σιδωνίας πρὸς γυναῖκα χήραν.

 

There are no similar stories in Mark and Matthew.  Luke uniquely had Jesus tell this story about Elijah as found in 1 Kings, chapter 17:1-16.  John the Baptist had been compared to Elijah, a major almost romantic 9th century BCE prophet, whose name appears more than 100 times in the biblical literature.  Elijah also appeared with Moses in the transfiguration of Jesus mentioned later in this work.  Elijah’s influence on the evangelical authors was very important, just like here.  There were a series of stories about Elijah when King Ahab (874-853 BCE) was king of Israel.  Elijah, commanded by Yahweh, went to a northern town near Sidon, probably a Phoenician town.  He provided a widow and her family with a never-ending jar and jug that provided meal and oil for her and her household until the drought came to an end.  Luke pointed out with a solemn pronouncement (ἐπ’ ἀληθείας δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) that there were many widows (πολλαὶ χῆραι ἦσαν) at the time of Elijah (ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡλείου), in Israel (ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ).  The heavens were closed or shut down (ὅτε ἐκλείσθη ὁ οὐρανὸς) for 3 ½ years (ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία καὶ μῆνας ἕξ).  Thus, there was a great drought across the whole land (ὡς ἐγένετο λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν).  However, Yahweh sent Elijah to none of the Israelite widows (καὶ πρὸς οὐδεμίαν αὐτῶν ἐπέμφθη Ἡλείας).  Instead Elijah was sent to a widow at Zarephath, in Sidon (εἰ μὴ εἰς Σάρεπτα τῆς Σιδωνίας πρὸς γυναῖκα χήραν).

Why does he not come down from the cross? (Mk 15:32-15:32

“‘Let the Messiah Christ!

The King of Israel!

Come down

From the cross now!

Thus,

We may see

And we may believe.’

Those who were crucified

With him

Also taunted him.”

 

ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ Βασιλεὺς Ἰσραὴλ καταβάτω νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ, ἵνα ἴδωμεν καὶ πιστεύσωμεν. καὶ οἱ συνεσταυρωμένοι σὺν αὐτῷ ὠνείδιζον αὐτόν.

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 27:42-44.  In Luke, chapter 23:35-37, there is only a mention of leaders and Roman soldiers, without any specific indication of which leaders, while there is nothing similar in John.  Mark said that the taunting continued.  They said if Jesus was the Messiah Christ (ὁ Χριστὸς), the King of Israel (ὁ Βασιλεὺς Ἰσραὴλ), let him come down or descend from the cross now (καταβάτω νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ).  Then they would see (ἵνα ἴδωμεν) and believe (καὶ πιστεύσωμεν).  Mark also said that the bandits or robbers, who were crucified with Jesus (καὶ οἱ συνεσταυρωμένοι σὺν αὐτῷ), also taunted or insulted him in the same way as the others had done (ὠνείδιζον αὐτόν).  These robbers were just as bad as the Jewish leaders, Roman soldiers, and the others passing by.  However, Luke, chapter 23:39-43, had an extended conversation between Jesus and these two bandits.  One of the two thieves or bandits told Jesus to save himself and them also, but the other thief or robber said that they deserved to die.  Only Luke had this story about the good and the bad thief.  Here in Matthew and Mark, both of the bandits being crucified with Jesus taunted him.  There was nothing about these thieves at all in John.  When someone is down, do you taunt them?  Would you have been among these people taunting Jesus?

 

The Jewish religious leaders mock Jesus (Mt 27:41-27:43)

“In the same way,

The chief priests also,

Along with the scribes

And the elders,

Were mocking him.

They said.

‘He saved others.

He cannot save himself.

He is the King of Israel!

Let him come down

From the cross now!

Then we will believe

In him.

He trusts in God!

Let God

Deliver him now!

If he wants to!

He said.

‘I am the God’s Son.’”

 

ὁμοίως οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἐμπαίζοντες μετὰ τῶν γραμματέων καὶ πρεσβυτέρων ἔλεγον

Ἄλλους ἔσωσεν, ἑαυτὸν οὐ δύναται σῶσαι· Βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ ἐστιν, καταβάτω νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ καὶ πιστεύσομεν ἐπ’ αὐτόν.

πέποιθεν ἐπὶ τὸν Θεόν, ῥυσάσθω νῦν εἰ θέλει αὐτόν· εἶπεν γὰρ ὅτι Θεοῦ εἰμι Υἱός.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:31-32, although Mark did not mention the elders nor the last verse about the Son of God.  In Luke, chapter 23:35, there is only a mention of leaders, without any specific indication of which leaders, while there is nothing similar in John.  Matthew said that the chief priests (οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς), the scribes (μετὰ τῶν γραμματέων), and the presbyter elders (καὶ πρεσβυτέρων) mocked Jesus in the same way as those passing by (ὁμοίως…ἐμπαίζοντες…ἔλεγον).  These religious leaders said that Jesus had saved others (Ἄλλους ἔσωσεν).  Why could he not save himself (ἑαυτὸν οὐ δύναται σῶσαι)?  If he was the King of Israel (Βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ ἐστιν), let him come down or descend from the cross now (καταβάτω νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ).  Then they would believe in him. (καὶ πιστεύσομεν ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  Jesus trusted God (πέποιθεν ἐπὶ τὸν Θεόν), so let God deliver or rescue him, if he wanted to (ῥυσάσθω νῦν εἰ θέλει αὐτόν), since he said that he was the Son of God (εἶπεν γὰρ ὅτι Θεοῦ εἰμι Υἱός).  However, Matthew never had Jesus say anything.  These ironic mocking comments from the Jewish religious leaders indicate Matthew’s dislike for them.

War will come to Israel (Hos 10:13-10:15)

“You have plowed wickedness.

You have reaped injustice,

You have eaten

The fruit of lies.

Because you have trusted

In your power,

You have trusted

In the multitude

Of your warriors.

Therefore,

The tumult of war

Shall arise

Against your people.

All your fortresses

Shall be destroyed.

As Shalman destroyed

Beth-arbel

On the day of battle.

Mothers were dashed

In pieces,

With their children.

Thus,

It shall be done to you!

O Bethel!

O house of Israel!

Because of your great wickedness.

At dawn,

The king of Israel

Shall be utterly cut off.”

Israel had plowed in wickedness, so that now they were going to reap injustice. They had eaten the fruit of their lies. They had trusted in their own power and their many warriors. Thus, the fury of war was going to come upon them and their people. All their fortresses would be destroyed, like Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel. Although it is difficult to find the exact battle, there is conjecture that this was the 8th century Moabite Shalman who invaded Beth-arbel or Irbid, that was west of the Sea of Galilee. In that battle, mothers with children were destroyed. Thus, the same was going to happen to Israel and Bethel because of their wickedness.  The king of Israel would be wiped out also.

The son of Hosea is called Jezreel (Hos 1:3-1:5)

“Gomer conceived.

She bore him a son.

Yahweh said to him,

‘Name him Jezreel!

In a little while,

I will punish

The house of Jehu

For the blood of Jezreel.

I will put an end

To the kingdom

Of the house of Israel.

On that day,

I will break

The bow of Israel

In the valley of Jezreel.’”

Gomer then conceived and bore a son. Yahweh, spoke directly to Hosea. He told him to name his son, Jezreel, meaning that God sows. All the children of this union between Hosea and Gomer will have symbolic prophetic names. In a little while, Yahweh was going to punish the house of Jehu, who had been king nearly a century earlier in 841-814 BCE. The current king of Israel, King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE) was a descendant of King Jehu. Jezreel was also the name of the royal palace where King Jehu had killed the descendants of King Omri (885-874 BCE). The dynasty of King Jehu actually ended with the son of King Jeroboam II, King Zachariah in 743 BCE, after the death of King Jeroboam. Yahweh also said that the house of Israel would come to an end, which it did in 724 BCE. Thus, Yahweh was going to break the bow of Israel in Jezreel, the northern royal palace. Jezreel was also the name of the valley of Megiddo. The so-called history of the northern Israelite kings, especially King Jehu, can be found in 2 Kings, chapters 9-10.

The title of Hosea (Hos 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Hosea,

The son of Beeri.

This was in the days

Of King Uzziah,

Of King Jotham,

Of King Ahaz,

Of King Hezekiah,

Kings of Judah.

This was in the days

Of King Jeroboam.

The son of Joash,

The king of Israel.”

Hosea was a prophet during the last days of the kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. He also was the earliest Israelite written prophet that we know of. This work of Hosea is considered the first of the 12 minor prophets. In a classic prophetic phrase, the word of Yahweh came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, who may have been a prophet himself. At that time, the kings of Judah were King Uzziah (781-740 BCE), King Jotham (740-736 BCE), King Ahaz (736-716 BCE), and King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE), spanning nearly 100 years. Meanwhile, the king of Israel mentioned here was only King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), the son of King Joash (798-783 BCE). That would eliminate all the Judean kings after King Uzziah. The last 4 kings of Israel were King Menahem, (743-738 BCE), King Pekahiah (738-737 BCE), King Pekah (737-732 BCE), and King Hoshea (732-724 BCE), but they were not mentioned here.

Absolute monotheism (Isa 44:6-44:8)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The King of Israel!

His Redeemer!

Yahweh of hosts!

‘I am the first!

I am the last!

Besides me,

There is no god.

Who is like me?

Let them proclaim it!

Let him declare it before me!

Let them set it forth before me!

Who has announced from of old

The things to come?

Let them tell us what is yet to be!

Do not fear!

Do not be afraid!

Have I not told you from of old?

Have I not declared it?

You are my witnesses!

Is there any god besides me?

There is no other Rock.

I know not one.’”

Just like in the last chapter, this is a strong statement of absolute monotheism, but an even more forceful self defense of Yahweh. He proclaims his uniqueness as God in the first person singular, using the same arguments and adding more. First, he has a series of titles, Yahweh, King of Israel, Redeemer, and Yahweh of hosts. He proclaimed that he was the first and the last. Thus there was no other god. No one was and is like him. Has anyone been able to foretell the future? Let them come forward! Israel should not fear or be afraid. They would be the witnesses that there is no other god except Yahweh. He was the rock, but there was no other rock like him anywhere.