Different kind of eunuchs (Mt 19:11-19:12)

“But Jesus said to them.

‘Not everyone can accept

This teaching.

But only those

To whom it is given

Can accept it.

There are eunuchs

Who have been so

From birth.

There are eunuchs

Who have been made eunuchs

By other men.

Then there are eunuchs

Who have made themselves eunuchs

For the sake

Of the kingdom of heaven.

Let anyone accept this

Who can.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐ πάντες χωροῦσιν τὸν λόγον τοῦτον ἀλλ’ οἷς δέδοται.

εἰσὶν γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω.

 

This section about eunuchs is unique to Matthew.  Jesus seems to imply that there is a place for eunuchs in the kingdom of heaven.  Are these eunuchs a metaphor for celibates or are they really castrated men?  Ancient societies had castrated male eunuchs in important positions.  As Jesus pointed out, some were born that way, others were made that way, or others decided to be that way.  Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that not everyone can accept this word, statement, or teaching (Οὐ πάντες χωροῦσιν τὸν λόγον τοῦτον), only those who had received this gift can accept it (ἀλλ’ οἷς δέδοται).  First. there were eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb (εἰσὶν γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως).  Then there were the eunuchs made so by other men (καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  Finally, there were the eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs (καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς).  Why would they do that?  Jesus said that they did it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν).  Then Jesus threw down the gauntlet and said that anyone who could, should accept this teaching (ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω).  Jesus seemed to imply that they should make themselves eunuchs or celibates for the kingdom of heaven.

Abominable images (Ezek 7:20-7:21)

“They had

Beautiful ornaments.

They took such pride

In them.

They made

Their abominable images.

They made

Their detestable things.

Therefore I will make of it

An unclean thing

To them.

I will hand it over

To strangers

As booty.

I will give it

To the wicked

Of the earth

As plunder.

They shall profane it.”

These Israelites had made beautiful ornaments into idols. They took such great pride in these abominable and detestable images that they had made. Yahweh was now going to make them into unclean things. He was going to hand them over to strangers as booty. He was going to give them to the wicked ones of the earth as plunder. Then they could profane these false idol god images.

The makers of the false god idols (Bar 6:45-6:47)

“These false idol gods

Are made

By carpenters

Or goldsmiths.

They can be nothing

But what the artisans

Wish them to be.

Those who make them

Will certainly not live

Very long themselves.

How can the things

That are made

By them

Be gods?

They have left

Only lies

With reproach

For those

Who come after.”

This author points out that carpenters and goldsmiths made these false idol gods. The idol gods are what these artisans wanted them to be. Besides all these craftsmen who made these idols will not live long anyway. How then can these things made by finite humans be infinite gods? These false idol makers leave only lies and reproach for those who come after they die.

The powerful God of Israel (Bar 2:11-2:11)

“Now,

O Lord God of Israel!

You brought

Your people

Out of the land of Egypt

With a mighty hand,

With signs,

With wonders,

With great power,

With an outstretched arm.

You made yourself

A name

That continues

To this day.”

The powerful Lord God of Israel brought his people out of Egypt with his mighty hand and many signs and wonders. He showed his great power with his outstretched arm. This powerful God has made a name for himself that has persisted until the present day.

The sacred vessels (Bar 1:8-1:9)

“At the same time,

On the tenth day

Of Sivan,

Baruch took

The vessels

Of the house

Of the Lord.

They had been carried away

From the temple.

He wanted

To return them

To the land

Of Judah.

These were

The silver vessels

That King Zedekiah,

The son of King Josiah,

King of Judah,

Had made.

This was done

After King Nebuchadnezzar,

The king of Babylon,

Had carried them away

From Jerusalem

With King Jeconiah,

With the princes,

With the prisoners,

With the nobles,

With the people of the land.

He brought them

To Babylon.”

Sivan was the 3rd month of the year, so that this was the 10th of that month. Baruch had somehow gotten hold of the sacred vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem that had been carried away with King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE) in 587 BCE. He had made these sacred vessels after the original sacred vessels had been taken away in 598 BCE when King Jeconiah (598 BCE) was taken captive. King Jeconiah had been taken captive with the princes, prisoners, nobles, and land owners to Babylon. Baruch wanted to return these sacred vessels to Jerusalem. Once again, it is not clear how this was going to happen.

The precious children of Zion (Lam 4:2-4:2)

Beth

“The precious children

Of Zion!

They are worth

Their weight

In fine gold!

How they are reckoned

As earthen pots!

They are the work

Of a potter’s hands!”

This author turns to the precious children of Zion, who are worth their weight in gold. They are the earthen jugs of the potter who made them. Thus the God made children of Jerusalem are worth more than gold. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth in this acrostic poem.

The message of the powerful God to Jeremiah (Jer 27:4-27:5)

“Give them this charge

For their masters.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

This is what you shall say

To your masters.

‘It is I,

Who by my great power,

With my outstretched arm,

Have made the earth,

With the people,

With the animals

That are on the earth.

I give it to

Whomever I please.”

Yahweh explained his power to Jeremiah, who was then to tell these various envoys when they returned to their leaders. Yahweh, the God of Israel, has great power with his outstretched arm. He has made the earth with all the people and animals that are on this earth. Thus he can do whatever he wants to do, since he is all powerful.