The Queen of Sheba (Mt 12:42-12:42)

“The Queen of the South

Will rise up

At the judgment

With this generation.

She will condemn it.

Because she came

From the ends of the earth

To listen

To the wisdom of Solomon.

See!

Something greater

Than Solomon is here.”

 

βασίλισσα νότου ἐγερθήσεται ἐν τῇ κρίσει μετὰ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης καὶ κατακρινεῖ αὐτήν· ὅτι ἦλθεν ἐκ τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς ἀκοῦσαι τὴν σοφίαν Σολομῶνος, καὶ ἰδοὺ πλεῖον Σολομῶνος ὧδε.

 

This saying about the Queen of Sheba can also be found in Luke, chapter 11:31, so that perhaps this is a Q source.  However, in Luke, it preceded the comments about the men of Nineveh.  Why was this unnamed Queen of Sheba able to give a judgment on this generation?  She was not even Jewish.  However, she visited King Solomon in 1 Kings, chapter 10:1-13, with the same story repeated in 2 Chronicles, chapter 9:1-12.  This mythical mysterious woman came from Sheba, but no one knows exactly where that was or her specific name.  She might have been from around the gold mines at Ophir, wherever that might be.  This might explain her wealth in spices, gold, and precious stones.  Anyway, King Solomon answered all her questions with great wisdom.  She observed all his wisdom, plus his house, his food, his clothing, and his servants.  She praised King Solomon, the son of King David, because his wisdom exceeded what she had anticipated and his prosperity exceeded her expectations.  Here she is called the Queen of the South (βασίλισσα νότου).  She would rise up at the judgment time against this generation (ἐγερθήσεται ἐν τῇ κρίσει μετὰ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης).  Just like the men of Nineveh, she would condemn them (καὶ κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτήν).  She had come from the ends of the earth (ὅτι ἦλθεν ἐκ τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς) to hear the wisdom of Solomon (ἀκοῦσαι τὴν σοφίαν Σολομῶνος).  Now, Matthew reminded them that something or someone greater than King Solomon was there among them (καὶ ἰδοὺ πλεῖον Σολομῶνος ὧδε), Jesus himself.

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Solomon and field grass (Mt 6:29-6:30)

“Yet I tell you!

‘Even Solomon,

In all his glory,

Was not clothed

Like one of these.

But if God clothes

The grass of the field,

Which is alive today,

But tomorrow is thrown

Into the oven,

Will he not much more

Clothe you?

You of little faith!’”

 

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων.

εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, ὀλιγόπιστοι;

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:27-28, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Matthew has Jesus utter his solemn saying (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν) that King Solomon in all his glory (ὅτι οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ) did not have better looking clothing than these field flowers (περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων).  In 1 Kings, chapter 10:1-5, the Queen of Sheba remarked about the wonderful clothes of King Solomon and his palace.  God, and not the Father, clothes the field grass that is here today (εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα) and gone tomorrow by being thrown into the furnace or oven (καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον).  This use of “κλίβανον,” oven or furnace, is unique to Matthew and Luke here.  Would God, not the Father, not take care of their clothing needs (ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον)?  Obviously, they were men of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι).  This word about little faith was a favorite term for Matthew, since he used it 5 times more, with only the Luke parallel here the only other usage in the New Testament.

The Writings

The Writings, as they were referred to in the New Testament, were the poetic or wisdom books.  They include the Psalms, some written by David, but mostly ranging from the 10th–4th century BCE, and the Proverbs, ascribed to Solomon, ranging from the 9th century–3rd century BCE, as well as the Book of Job, from the 6th century BCE.  Both the Psalms and Proverbs were written over a period of time, but they each have an author attributed to them, King David to the Psalms, and King Solomon to the ProverbsJob was not an Israelite, but his story was instructive to the Israelites.

The Zadok Levitical priests (Ezek 44:15-44:16)

“‘But the Levitical priests,

The descendants of Zadok,

Who kept the charge

Of my sanctuary,

When the people of Israel

Went astray

From me,

Shall come near

To me

To minister

To me.

They shall attend me

To offer me

The fat

With the blood.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘They shall enter

My sanctuary.

They shall approach

My table.

They shall

Minister

To me.

They shall

Keep my charge.’”

It was a different story for the Zadok Levitical priests, as mentioned in the previous chapter. These Levitical priests from the family of Zadok came from a righteous priest, who was descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. This Zadok aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel, chapters 13-22. Then this Zadok helped bring King Solomon to the throne in 1 Kings, chapters 1-2. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, this Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there in 1 Kings, chapter 4. Thus, the house of Zadok occupied the high priesthood throughout much of the Second Temple period. These Zadok Levitical priests had been loyal to Yahweh, when the other Levites went astray. They were the ones who could come near to Yahweh to minister to him. They would offer the fat and the blood. They would enter Yahweh’s sanctuary and approach his table. They would be in charge and directly minister to Yahweh.

The dedication of the altar (Ezek 43:18-43:20)

“‘On the day

When it is erected

For offering

Burnt offerings

Upon it,

For dashing blood

Against it,

You shall give

A bull

For a sin offering.

The Levitical priests

Of the family of Zadok,

Who draw near to me

Shall minister to me.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘You shall take

Some of its blood.

You will put it on

The four horns

Of the altar.

You will put it on

The four corners

Of the ledge.

You will put it

On the rim,

All around.

Thus,

You shall purify it.

You will make atonement

for it.’”

The first thing to be done on this new altar, after it was erected for offerings, was a burnt offering. The Levitical priests of the family of Zadok was based on a righteous priest, who was descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. Zadok had aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel, chapters 13-22. Then this Zadok helped bring King Solomon to the throne in 1 Kings, chapters 1-2. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there in 1 Kings, chapter 4. Thus, it was not strange that the house of Zadok occupied the high priesthood throughout much of the Second Temple period. These Levitical priests were the ones who came near to Yahweh to minister to him. The first of the sin offerings was a bull. These Zadok Levitical priests were to put its blood on the 4 horns of the altar, plus on the rim all around it for a purification and an atonement at the same time.

 

Chambers for the priests (Ezek 40:45-40:46)

“He said to me.

‘This chamber

That faces south is

For the priests

Who are in charge

Of the temple.

The chamber

That faces north

Is for the priests

Who are in charge

Of the altar.

These are the descendants

Of Zadok.

They alone,

Among the descendants

Of Levi,

May come near

To Yahweh,

To minister to him.’”

The bronze man told Ezekiel how these two chambers worked. The chamber that faced south was for the priests who were in charge of the Temple. The chamber facing north was for the priests who were in charge of the altar. Those in charge of the altar were descendants of Zadok. Who was he? Zadok was a descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. He helped both King David and King Solomon in 1 Kings, chapters 1-3. Because he was the first high priest for the Solomon Temple, his descendants had a higher rank than the rest of the Levi priests. Thus, these Zadok priests could come near to Yahweh to minister to him.

 

The Babylonians took the large ornate pillars (Jer 52:20-52:23)

“The bronze

Of all these things

Was beyond weighing.

This included the two pillars.

The one was the bronze sea,

With the twelve bronze bulls

Under the sea.

King Solomon

Had made these

For the house of Yahweh.

As for the pillars,

The height of the one pillar

Was eighteen cubits.

Its circumference was twelve cubits.

It was hollow.

Its thickness was four fingers.

Upon it was a capital of bronze.

The height of the capital

Was five cubits.

Lattice work

With pomegranates,

All of bronze,

Encircled the top of the capital.

The second pillar

Had the same thing

With pomegranates.

There were ninety-six pomegranates

On the sides.

All the pomegranates

Encircling the lattice work

Numbered one hundred.”

This is an expanded version of what appeared in 2 Kings, chapter 25. The Babylonians took the two large pillars that were about 27 feet high (18 cubits) and 18 feet (12 cubits) around. The bronze was about 4 inches thick. There is a very precise description of one pillar, while the second pillar was similar to it. Apparently these pillars were around the bronze sea with the 12 bronze bulls that King Solomon had made. These hollow pillars had a column or capital at the top that had lattice work with about 24 pomegranates on each of the 4 sides with 4 in each corner totally 100 pomegranates around it.