The woman with an infirmity for eighteen years (Lk 13:11-13:11)

“Just then,

There appeared

A woman

With a spirit

That had crippled her

For eighteen years.

She was bent over.

She was unable

To stand up straight.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ γυνὴ πνεῦμα ἔχουσα ἀσθενείας ἔτη δέκα οκτώ, καὶ ἦν συνκύπτουσα καὶ μὴ δυναμένη ἀνακύψαι εἰς τὸ παντελές.

 

Luke uniquely said that there was a woman (καὶ ἰδοὺ γυνὴ) with a spirit that had crippled her (ἔχουσα ἀσθενείας) for 18 years (ἔτη δέκα οκτώ).  She was bent over (καὶ ἦν συνκύπτουσα).  This is the only appearance of the word συνκύπτουσα in the biblical literature, since it means bent forward, or doubled up.  She was unable to stand up straight or lift herself to her full height (αὶ μὴ δυναμένη ἀνακύψαι εἰς τὸ παντελές).  No one else had this story about the crippled lady, who for 18 years was possessed by some evil spirit that caused her problem.  Illness and the role of evil spirits was always connected.  Due to some evil spirit, she could not stand up straight.  Do you know anyone who is bent over?

Advertisements

Loaded with burdens (Lk 11:46-11:46)

“Jesus said.

‘Woe to you!

Lawyers!

You load people

With burdens

Hard to bear!

You,

Yourselves,

Do not lift

A finger

To ease them.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Καὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς νομικοῖς οὐαί, ὅτι φορτίζετε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους φορτία δυσβάστακτα, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἑνὶ τῶν δακτύλων ὑμῶν οὐ προσψαύετε τοῖς φορτίοις.

 

Then Luke indicated that Jesus turned on these lawyers, also.  Jesus cursed them also (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Καὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς νομικοῖς οὐαί).  They had loaded people with hard burdens to bear (ὅτι φορτίζετε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους φορτία δυσβάστακτα).  At the same time, they did not lift a finger to ease their burdens (καὶ αὐτοὶ ἑνὶ τῶν δακτύλων ὑμῶν οὐ προσψαύετε τοῖς φορτίοις).  There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 23:4, where Jesus said that the Pharisees and the Scribes, not the lawyers, tied up heavy burdens on the people that were hard or oppressive to bear.  They put these burdens on the shoulders of other men, but they themselves were unwilling to lift a finger to help them remove these burdens.  These heavy burdens of the Torah may have been their multiple perplexing oral interpretations of the law rather than the law itself that was usually considered a blessing.  Here in Luke, Jesus was talking about lawyers, who may have been Pharisaic lawyers of the Law of Moses, who also would not help others in any way.  Do you know any religious lawyers?

Jesus compares sheep to human beings (Mt 12:11-12:12)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Suppose one of you

Has only one sheep.

If it falls into a pit

On the Sabbath,

Will you not lay hold of it?

Will you not lift it out?

How much more valuable

Is a human being

Than a sheep!

Thus,

It is lawful to do good

On the Sabbath.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Τίς ἔσται ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος ὃς ἕξει πρόβατον ἕν, καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον, C

πόσῳ οὖν διαφέρει ἄνθρωπος προβάτου. ὥστε ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν.

 

Matthew has Jesus respond to the Pharisees with his own example about sheep and humans.  This is somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 3:3-4, and Luke, chapter 6:8-9, but Matthew was the only one who compared sheep to humans.  Jesus posed a question to the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  Suppose a man had only one sheep (Τίς ἔσται ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος ὃς ἕξει πρόβατον ἕν).  Suppose this one sheep fell into a pit or a ditch on the Sabbath (καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον).  Would this man not grab it and lift it out of the pit (καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον)?  Just think, how much more valuable are human being when compared to a sheep (πόσῳ οὖν διαφέρει ἄνθρωπος προβάτου)!  Thus, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath (ὥστε ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν).  If you help sheep on the Sabbath, surely you can help humans on the Sabbath.

The problem of Jerusalem (Zech 12:2-12:3)

“See!

I am about to make Jerusalem

A cup of trembling

For all the surrounding people.

It will be against Judah also

In the siege against Jerusalem.

On that day,

I will make Jerusalem

A heavy stone

For all the people.

Anyone who lifts it

Shall grievously hurt themselves.

All the nations of the earth

Shall come together against it.”

Zechariah pointed out that Jerusalem was going to have a special place.  They were going to be like a cup of trembling or reeling, perhaps an allusion to the cup, bowl, or basin that caught the blood of the Passover lamb.  The neighboring people should be aware that Jerusalem was under siege.  Thus, Jerusalem was to become a heavy stone that few people could lift.  Apparently, there was a practice of lifting stones to show one’s strength among young men, like weight lifting.  Thus, anyone who tried to lift the heavy stone of Jerusalem would hurt themselves.  All the various countries in the world would come against Jerusalem, but at their own risk.

The peaceful reign of Yahweh (Mic 4:3-4:3)

“He shall judge

Between many people.

He shall arbitrate

Between strong nations far away.

They shall beat their swords

Into plowshares.

They shall turn their spears

Into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up

Its sword

Against another nation.

Neither shall they learn

War anymore.”

This was a vision of a time of perpetual peace that is often cited by pacifists, exactly the same as an oracle in Isaiah, chapter 2, word for word.  Yahweh would arbitrate and judge all nations.  Then there is the famous saying that they would beat their swords into plows.  They would turn their spears into pruning hooks.  No one would lift a sword against anyone else.  People would forget how to wage war since no one would learn how to do it.  This is the utopian theocratic peace that has Jerusalem rule the world through Yahweh.  It has never happened and probably will not.

The importance of good relationships (Isa 58:6-58:9)

“Is not this the fast that I choose?

You must loose the bonds of injustice!

You must undo the thongs of the yoke!

Let the oppressed go free!

Break every yoke!

Is it not to share your bread

With the hungry?

Is it not to bring the homeless poor

Into your house?

When you see the naked,

Cover them!

Do not hide yourself

From your own relatives!

Then your light shall break forth

Like the dawn.

Your healing shall spring up quickly.

Your vindicator shall go before you.

The glory of Yahweh

Shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call.

Now Yahweh will answer.

You shall cry for help.

He will say.

‘Here I am.’”

Third Isaiah has Yahweh explain what kind of relationships that they should have while fasting. They should try to do away with injustice. They should try to lift the yoke of those who are oppressed. They should share their bread with the hungry. They should provide housing for the homeless. They should clothe the naked. In some sense, this sounds like the later Christian beatitudes in the gospel stories. They should take care of their relatives or next of kin. If they did all these things, then their light would be like the dawning of a new day. They would heal quickly. Their vindicator would lead them, while the glory of God would be behind them. If they called him, obviously the Lord, Yahweh, would answer their cry for help with a simple saying that he was here.  How you treat others has an impact on how you treat God.

Yahweh is upset (Isa 33:10-33:12)

“‘Now I will arise.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Now I will lift myself up.

Now I will be exalted.

You conceive chaff!

You bring forth stubble!

Your breath is a fire

That will consume you.

The people will be

As if burned to lime,

Like thorns cut down,

That are burned in the fire.’”

Isaiah has Yahweh speak directly to everyone. Yahweh was going to rise up. He was going to lift himself up. He wanted to be exalted and acknowledged. He did not like what they were bringing to him, since he considered it only chaff and stubble, like useless left over things. Their breath was like a fire that would consume them. It would burn them as if they were lime. They would be like cut down like thorn bushes burning in a fire.