Mosaic law of taking a dead man’s wife (Lk 20:28-20:28)

“These Sadducees

Asked him a question.

‘Teacher!’

Moses wrote for us

That if a man’s brother dies,

Leaving a wife childless,

The man shall marry

The widow.

He will raise up children

For his brother.’”

 

λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν, ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ ἔχων γυναῖκα, καὶ οὗτος ἄτεκνος ᾖ, ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that these Sadducees asked Jesus a question (λέγοντες), respectfully calling him “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε)!”  They said that Moses wrote for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν) in Deuteronomy, chapter 25:5-10, that if a man’s brother dies (ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ), leaving a wife childless (ἔχων γυναῖκα, καὶ οὗτος ἄτεκνος ᾖ), that man should marry the widow (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα) to raise up children or seed for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer to use this word ἄτεκνος, that means childless.  Matthew, chapter 22:24, and Mark, chapter 12:19, are almost word for word as here in LukeMark said that these Sadducees addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).”  They quoted a Mosaic text that Moses had written for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν),  If a man’s brother should die (ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ) leaving behind a wife (καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα) without any children (καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον), his living brother should take his dead brother’s widow as his wife (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα).  He would then raise up the descendant children or seeds for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  Matthew indicated that these Sadducees also addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher” or “Rabbi (λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε).”  They quoted a Mosaic text, as Moses said (Μωϋσῆς εἶπεν).  If a man died without any children (Ἐάν τις ἀποθάνῃ μὴ ἔχων τέκνα), his brother should marry the widow (ἐπιγαμβρεύσει ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ).  He would then raise up the descendants for his brother (καὶ ἀναστήσει σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  This levirate law goes back as far as Tamar in Genesis, chapter 38:1-30, with the story of Judah’s 3 sons and Tamar, the original wife of Er.  The brother of the deceased was supposed to marry his brother’s widow if he had no sons.  The widow was not to marry outside her family.  It also assumes that the brother lived close by or in the same house as his brother.  There was no indication of whether the brother was married or not, but this seems to assume a younger brother.  This was an attempt to prolong the heritage and name of a person, which was common in ancient times.  The punishment for the brother’s refusal was an insult, rather than any physical punishment.  Would you marry the wife or husband or your dead brother or sister?

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Lot’s wife (Lk 17:32-17:32)

“Remember Lot’s wife!”

 

μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ

 

Luke was the only gospel writer to have Jesus remark about remembering Lot’s wife (μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ).  This was is a reference to Genesis, chapter 19:26.  There Yahweh had rained down on both Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire, so that all who lived in those two towns and the plains around it were destroyed.  Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.  Luke and Jesus did not elaborate on the circumstances of her death, just remember it as if it was well known.  This was quite a striking biblical image, since they were in the plains by the Dead Sea that was also called the Salt Sea.  Have you ever looked back with regret?

Jesus goes to Nain (Lk 7:11-7:11)

“Soon afterward,

Jesus went

To a town

Called Nain.

His disciples

And a large crowd

Went with him.”

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ἑξῆς ἐπορεύθη εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Ναΐν, καὶ συνεπορεύοντο αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ ὄχλος πολύς.

 

Luke has this unique story about the town of Nain, a small Galilean town about 23 miles southwest of Capernaum and about 6 miles southeast of Nazareth.  This took place the day after the events with the centurion (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ἑξῆς).  Jesus went to a town called Nain (ἐπορεύθη εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Ναΐν).  His disciples (οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ) with a large crowd (καὶ ὄχλος πολύς) also went with him (καὶ συνεπορεύοντο αὐτῷ).  There is no indication why they went to this small town that is not mentioned elsewhere in the biblical works, but only here in Luke.  Have you ever lived in a small town?

Simon’s house (Lk 4:38-4:38)

“Jesus left

The synagogue.

He entered

Simon’s house.

Now Simon’s mother-in-law

Was suffering

From a high fever.

They asked him

About her.”

 

Ἀναστὰς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς συναγωγῆς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος. πενθερὰ δὲ τοῦ Σίμωνος ἦν συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ, καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτὸν περὶ αὐτῆς.

 

Luke said that Jesus left the synagogue (Ἀναστὰς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς συναγωγῆς) in Capernaum.  He then entered Simon’s house (εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος) that was probably in Capernaum also.  Simon’s mother-in-law (πενθερὰ δὲ τοῦ Σίμωνος) was suffering from a high fever (ἦν συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ).  They asked or appealed to Jesus about her (καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτὸν περὶ αὐτῆς).  Matthew, chapter 8:14, and Mark, chapter 1:29-30, both have something similar, as well.  Mark said that as soon as Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon and Andrew, his brother, nor just Simon’s house.  Thus, this may have been a family residence.  Matthew said clearly it was Peter’s house, using his Greek name that Jesus gave him.  Only Mark mentioned James and John being there also.  In Luke and Mark, Jesus was leaving the synagogue, so that this would be the second healing on the Sabbath.  However, Matthew had them coming here after curing the centurion’s servant.  Anyway, Jesus and his disciples were in a place that Simon or Peter stayed or lived in Capernaum.  This residence of Simon may have become the headquarters for Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.  In Matthew, Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed sick with a fever, so that no one had to tell him about it, as in Mark and Luke.  In all three gospel stories, she was sick with a fever, lying in bed.  There is no indication of what kind of illness this was or whether it was chronic or severe.  No one explained why Peter’s mother-in-law was living in this house.  Was this a permanent arrangement?  There were no indications of where Simon’s wife was, even if she was there, since there was no mention whatsoever of Peter’s wife in any of these stories.

Adam (Lk 3:38-3:38)

“The son of Enos,

The son of Seth,

The son of Adam,

The son of God.”

 

τοῦ Ἐνὼς τοῦ Σὴθ τοῦ Ἀδὰμ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

These names are listed in 1 Chronicles 1:2-1:3, and Genesis, chapter 5:1-8.  Luke concluded his genealogy with Adam, whom he called the son of God.  This terminology was not part of the Jewish tradition.  Of course, this term was applied to Jesus, the Son of God.  Luke said that Cainan was the son of Enos (τοῦ Ἐνὼς), the son of Seth (τοῦ Σὴθ), the son of Adam (τοῦ Ἀδὰμ), the son of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ).  The grouping has the so-called first man Adam, with his son, and grandson.  His son, besides Cain and Abel who are not even mentioned here, was Seth who lived to be 912 years old.  Seth’s son was Enosh who lived to be 905 years old.  Obviously, there were other brothers and sisters, but they are not mentioned.  This genealogy repeats the theme of Genesis, chapter 1.  God created humans in the image of God, male and female.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image.  He named this son Seth.  Adam had other sons and daughters.  Thus, all the days that Adam lived were 930 years.  The offspring of Seth, and not Cain, were to lead to Noah.  Most of these patriarchs began having children in old age, but they all had other sons and daughters.  Seth became the father of Enosh.  Enosh was the son of Seth, but also the father of Kenan or Cainan.  Thus, Luke completed his genealogy by going from Jesus to Adam, while Matthew went from Abraham to Jesus.  These 77 names of Luke represented a lucky completion or fullness of time.  Jesus would not only be a Jewish leader of the tribe of Abraham, but a worldwide universal leader.

Old Anna lived in the Temple (Lk 2:37-2:37)

“Then Anna lived

As a widow

To the age of eighty-four.

She never left

The Temple.

She worshiped there

With fasting

And prayer,

Night and day.”

 

καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων, ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν.

 

Next Luke spoke about how this old female prophet, Anna was a widow, living in the Temple, worshiping and fasting day and night.  Thus, she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four (καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων).  She never left the Temple (ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ).  She worshiped or served there with fasting and prayer (νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα), night and day (νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν).  She was a very devout old Jewish lady.  Once again, Luke indicated that she was a widow that did not remarry, but dedicated herself to the Temple worship.

Mercy and fear (Lk 1:50-1:50)

“His mercy

Is for those

Who fear him

From generation

To generation.

 

καὶ τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ εἰς γενεὰς καὶ γενεὰς τοῖς φοβουμένοις αὐτόν.

 

This canticle of Mary was modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:1-10, that praised Yahweh for her son, the prophet Samuel.  Luke indicated that Mary said that God’s mercy (καὶ τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ) was from generation to generation (εἰς γενεὰς καὶ γενεὰς) to those who feared him (τοῖς φοβουμένοις αὐτόν).  Fear of the Lord was the first step towards seeking mercy from God, no matter when you lived.