Luke indicated that Jesus said to them that they should have their clothes dressed for action (Ἔστωσαν ὑμῶν αἱ ὀσφύες περιεζωσμέναι). They should have their lamps burning with light (καὶ οἱ λύχνοι καιόμενοι). There was something similar in Matthew chapter 25:1, about having lamps lit. There Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven would be like 10 bridesmaids, having lamps with them, waiting to meet the bridegroom. They were to be an escort in a procession to the bride’s house and then to the wedding banquet with their lit candles. However, there was nothing in Matthew about being dressed for action. Are you always dressed and ready for action?
This parable story is unique to Matthew. Jesus continued with this story of the 10 bridesmaids. While the foolish bridesmaids departed to buy some oil (ἀπερχομένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἀγοράσαι), the bridegroom came (ἦλθεν ὁ νυμφίος). Those 5 wise bridesmaids, who were ready with their lamps, went with the bridegroom (καὶ αἱ ἕτοιμοι εἰσῆλθον μετ’ αὐτοῦ). They probably had a procession to the wedding banquet (εἰς τοὺς γάμους). When they got there, the door was shut (καὶ ἐκλείσθη ἡ θύρα). The 5 foolish bridesmaids went in the middle of the night to find some oil for their lamps. Meanwhile the bridegroom, the Son of Man or Jesus, came and had his procession to the wedding banquet. The closed door meant that no one else could come in.
This parable story is unique to Matthew. Jesus then pointed out this moment of crisis. The 5 foolish bridesmaids said to the 5 wise ones (αἱ δὲ μωραὶ ταῖς φρονίμοις εἶπαν) that they wanted some of their olive oil (Δότε ἡμῖν ἐκ τοῦ ἐλαίου ὑμῶν) that they had in their flasks. Their lamps were going out or extinguishing (ὅτι αἱ λαμπάδες ἡμῶν σβέννυνται). Thus, they needed more oil to keep their oil lamps going for this night procession.
This parable story is unique to Matthew. Jesus said that when the foolish ones took their lamps (αἱ γὰρ μωραὶ λαβοῦσαι τὰς λαμπάδας), they did not take any olive oil with them (ὐκ ἔλαβον μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν ἔλαιον). The foolish bridesmaids acted carelessly by not taking any extra olive oil for their lamps or lanterns. They would be ill prepared for what was to come. Oil could be a metaphor for righteousness, since the foolish would not be righteous.
This parable is unique to Matthew, but there is something similar in Luke, chapter 12:35-36, about having lamps lit. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven would be like (ότε ὁμοιωθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν)10 bridesmaids, virgins, or unmarried maidens (δέκα παρθένοις) having lamps with them (αἵτινες λαβοῦσαι τὰς λαμπάδας ἑαυτῶν). They were waiting to go out to meet the bridegroom (ἐξῆλθον εἰς ὑπάντησιν τοῦ νυμφίου). The custom at that time was to have these virgin bridesmaids or unmarried maidens accompany the bridegroom from his house to the house of the bride before they would go to the wedding place. Thus, these bridesmaid virgins would act as an escort in a procession to the bride’s house and then to the wedding banquet place.
This angel that had woken up Zechariah asked him what he saw. Then Zechariah responded that he saw a golden lampstand with a bowl on the top of it. There were 7 lamps with 7 lips for each of the lamps. Did this mean that God was present everywhere?
“Now Judas Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city. They tore down the altars which that had been built in the public square by the foreigners. They also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary. They made another altar of sacrifice. Then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices. After a lapse of two years, they burned incense. They lighted lamps. They set out the bread of the Presence. When they had done this, they fell prostrate. They implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes. If they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations.”
This purification of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus took place earlier in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, about a year before the death of King Antiochus IV. Here it is 2 years after the desecration of the Temple. In fact, the description in 1 Maccabees was more elaborate, but pretty much the same as here. There was no lamentation and mourning for the city and the Temple here. The Lord led them on here as the altars were in the public square. In 1 Maccabees, they saved the old stones. Here they just made another altar. They offered sacrifices, burned incense, lighted lamps, and set out the bread of Presence as in 1 Maccabees. Here there is a prayer to be more lenient next time if they do sin.
“They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple. They consecrated the courts. They made new holy vessels. They brought the lamp stand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they offered incense on the altar. They lit the lamps on the lamp stand so that they gave light in the temple. They placed the bread on the table. They hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.”
Then they rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the Temple. They consecrated the courts, and make new vessels. They brought in the lamp stand, the incense table, and the table for the bread. They also hung the curtains. With the lamp stands burning, they had light in the Temple. They finished refurnishing the Temple.
“King Solomon made all the things that were in the house of God. He made the golden altar, the tables for the bread of the Presence, the lamp stands, and their lamps of pure gold to burn before the inner sanctuary, as prescribed. He made the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs of purest gold. He made the snuffers, basins, dishes for incense, and fire pans of pure gold. As for the entrance to the temple, the inner doors to the most holy place and the doors of the nave of the temple were of gold.”
As in 1 Kings, chapter 7, almost word for word, King Solomon made all the golden vessels. This is very reminiscent of Exodus, chapter 25, when they got ready the sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant. Everything had to be gold plated, the altars, the lamp stands, and all the small utensils. He made the golden altar for the bread as well as the golden lamp stands. All the utensils were gold. Everything was gold plated including the doors.
“You shall further command the Israelites to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the light, so that a lamp may be set up to burn regularly. In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that is before the covenant, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before Yahweh. It shall be a perpetual ordinance to be observed throughout their generations by the Israelites.”
For the lamp, they were to use pure oil of beaten olives. We think of oil from the ground, but for the ancient people the oil of the olive trees was their oil. This was a perpetual lamp for the meeting tent that was outside the curtain, before the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons were responsible for this lamp. Once again, the Roman Catholic perpetual lamp before the tabernacle in medieval churches got its idea from here.