The fig tree (Mk 11:13-11:13)

“Seeing

In the distance,

A fig tree in leaf,

Jesus went to see

Whether perhaps

He could find

Anything on it.

When he came to it,

He found nothing

But leaves.

It was not the season

For figs.”

 

καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔχουσαν φύλλα ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ, καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν οὐδὲν εὗρεν εἰ μὴ φύλλα· ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων.

 

This story about Jesus seeing the fig tree can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:19.  Luke, chapter 13:6-9, also has a parable about a fig tree that would not bear fruit.  The stories in Matthew and Mark are slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus saw a fig tree from a distance (καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν), not by the side of the road, as in Matthew.  This fig tree had leafy branches (ἔχουσαν φύλλα).  Jesus went to see if he could find any fruit on it (ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ).  When he came over to the tree (καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν), he found no fruit (οὐδὲν εὗρεν), only leaves (εἰ μὴ φύλλα), the same as Matthew had indicated.  However, here Mark pointed out that it was not the season for figs (ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων).

 

The parable of the fig tree (Mt 24:32-24:32)

“From the fig tree,

Learn its lesson!

As soon as its branch

Becomes tender,

It puts forth its leaves.

Then you know

That summer

Is near.”

 

Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν· ὅταν ἤδη ὁ κλάδος αὐτῆς γένηται ἁπαλὸς καὶ τὰ φύλλα ἐκφύῃ, γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος

 

This is exactly the same, word for word, in Mark, chapter 13:28, but in Luke, chapter 21:29-30, almost word for word.  Earlier in chapter 21:19-20, Jesus had cursed a fig tree for not having fruit, but here there was a lesson or a little parable to be learned (μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν) from the fig tree (Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς).  As soon as its branches or shoots became tender (ὅταν ἤδη ὁ κλάδος αὐτῆς γένηται ἁπαλὸς), it would put forth its leaves (καὶ τὰ φύλλα ἐκφύῃ).  Then you would know that summer was near (γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος).  In other words, the early leaves on a tree indicated that summer was coming.  Let’s hope that summer keeps coming.

Jesus curses the fig tree (Mt 21:19-21:20)

“Jesus saw a fig tree

By the side of the road.

He went to it.

He found nothing on it

But leaves only.

He said to it.

‘May no fruit

Ever come

From you again!’

The fig tree withered

At once.

When the disciples saw it,

They were amazed.

They said.

‘How did the fig tree

Wither at once?’”

 

καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν μίαν ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ ἦλθεν ἐπ’ αὐτήν, καὶ οὐδὲν εὗρεν ἐν αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ φύλλα μόνον, καὶ λέγει αὐτῇ Οὐ μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. καὶ ἐξηράνθη παραχρῆμα ἡ συκῆ.

καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ ἐθαύμασαν λέγοντες Πῶς παραχρῆμα ἐξηράνθη ἡ συκῆ;

 

This story about Jesus cursing the fig tree can be found in Mark, chapter 11:13-14, in a condensed form.  Luke, chapter 13:6-9, has a parable about a fig tree that would not bear fruit.  Jesus saw one fig tree by the side of the road (καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν μίαν ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ).  He went over to it (ἦλθεν ἐπ’ αὐτήν) but he found no fruit (καὶ οὐδὲν εὗρεν ἐν αὐτῇ), since only leaves were on it (εἰ μὴ φύλλα μόνον).  He then said to the tree (καὶ λέγει αὐτῇ) that no fruit would ever come from that tree again (Οὐ μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα).  Then the fig tree withered or dried up instantly (καὶ ἐξηράνθη παραχρῆμα ἡ συκῆ).  When his disciples saw this (καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ), they were amazed and marveled (ἐθαύμασαν).  They wondered about this and said (λέγοντες).  “How did this fig tree wither immediately (Πῶς παραχρῆμα ἐξηράνθη ἡ συκῆ)?”  Even his disciples were amazed about this withering fig tree.

Israel forgot Yahweh (Jer 18:13-18:17)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh.

‘Ask among the nations?

Who has heard the like of this?

The virgin Israel has done

A very horrible thing.

Does the snow of Lebanon

Leave the crags of Sirion?

Do the mountain waters run dry?

Do the cold flowing streams stop?

But my people have forgotten me.

They burn incense to a delusion.

They have stumbled in their ways,

On the ancient roads.

They have gone into bypaths.

They have not gone on the highway.

They are making their land a horror.

This is a thing to be hissed at forever.

Everyone who passes by it

Is horrified.

They shake their heads.

Like the east wind,

I will scatter them

Before the enemy.

I will show them my back.

I will not show them my face,

In the day of their calamity.’”

Yahweh wants to know why the Israelites have forgotten him. This virgin Israel has done a horrible thing. He asks whether the snow leaves the mountains of Lebanon at Mount Hermon. Sirion is another name for Mount Hermon. Do the mountain waters dry up? Do the cold streams disappear? Do these sources for the Jordan River stop? Of course not, yet Yahweh’s people have forgotten him. They have turned to offering incense to false delusionary idol gods. They were stumbling along. They have gone off the main highways into the side roads. Their land has become horrible. People shake their heads and hiss as they pass by. Thus Yahweh was going to be like a wind from the east and scatter them to their enemies. When the day of troubles would begin, he would show them his back and not his face.

The divorced wife (Jer 3:1-3:1)

“‘If a man divorces his wife,

She goes from him.

If she becomes another man’s wife,

Will he return to her?

Would not such a land

Be greatly polluted?

You have played the whore

With many lovers.

Would you return to me?’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has Yahweh speak about a divorced wife. If she leaves him and becomes the wife of another, would he return to her? The answer is obviously not, because he has already divorced her. According to Deuteronomy, chapter 24, the first husband cannot remarry anyway. She has become another man’s wife. Also this would pollute the land in trying to figure out who is the father of her children. Yahweh explains that the Israelites have been prostitutes with many lovers. Would they return to him? This presupposes that he has divorced himself from them.

Give to others (Sir 14:15-14:19)

“Will you not leave

The fruit of your labors

To another?

What you acquired by toil

Is to be divided by lot.

Give!

Take!

Indulge yourself!

Because in Hades,

One cannot look for luxury.

All living beings become old

Like a garment.

The decree from of old is.

‘You must die!’

Like abundant leaves

On a spreading tree

That sheds some leaves,

But that puts forth others,

So are the generations

Of flesh and blood.

One dies.

Another is born.

Every work decays.

Every work ceases to exist.

The one who made it

Will pass away with it.”

After all is said and done, you will leave the results of your work to others either by chance or design. Thus give and take things. Indulge yourself, because you will not be able to enjoy luxuries after your death in Hades, the afterlife underworld. Everyone is like an old garment that is wearing out. Like leaves on a tree, some are falling off, while others are blooming. Life is full of people who are either dying and or being born. Every work decays and ceases to exist. So too will the person who made these things pass away.

Watch out for evil passions (Sir 6:2-6:4)

“Do not fall

Into the grip of passion.

You may be torn apart

As by a bull.

Your leaves will be devoured.

Your fruit destroyed.

You will be left

Like a withered tree.

Evil passion destroys

Those who have it.

It makes them the laughingstock of their enemies.”

You should not fall into the grip of evil passions. You will be torn apart as if a bull were attacking you. You life will be like a tree with its leaves and fruits destroyed. You will be like a withered tree. Evil passion destroys the ones who have it. It also makes them the laughingstock of their enemies.

The happy people (Ps 1:1-1:3)

“Happy are those

Who do not follow the advice of the wicked.

They do not take the path that sinners tread.

They do not sit in the seat of scoffers.

Their delight is in the law of Yahweh.

On his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees

That are planted by streams of water.

They yield their fruit in its season.

Their leaves do not wither.

In all that they do,

They prosper.”

Psalm 1 is considered a preface to the collection of psalms or praises. There is no attribution to this psalm. It may have been the biblical editor’s choice. This psalm emphasizes the two ways, much like the later 1st century CE Christian Didache. This is, in fact, a wisdom psalm. The happy or blessed ones are the people who do not follow wicked advice. They receive blessings. They are the prosperous or the righteous people. They do not walk down the way of sinners or scoffers. Their delight and happiness is in the law of Yahweh. They are like the strong trees planted by streams of water as they always yield their fruit in the correct season. Their leaves never wither. Everything that they do is prosperous because they are sustained by the water. They meditate day and night on the Torah that was given by Yahweh, the God of Israel, via Moses. They are much like Christian contemplatives or Buddhist monks. The happy blessed one is the one who follows the law. This psalm sets the tone for all the psalms to follow.

Yahweh questions Job about ostriches (Job 39:13-39:18)

“The ostrich’s wings flap proudly.

Its pinions lack plumage.

It leaves its eggs to the earth.

It lets them be warmed on the ground.

It forgets that a foot may crush them.

A wild animal may trample them.

It deals cruelly with its young.

It treats them as if they were not its own.

Even though its labor be in vain,

It has no fear.

Because God has made it forget wisdom.

God has given it no share in understanding.

When it spreads its plumes aloft,

It laughs at the horse and its rider.”

Somehow Yahweh wanted Job to know about ostriches. Its wings do not have feathers. It seems to be stupid since it leaves its eggs on the ground for anyone to trample on them. It is kind of cruel to its young. Ostriches seem to lack wisdom and understanding. However, it still laughs at horses and riders. It seems strange that Yahweh should be so interested in ostriches.