The sources (Lk 1:2-1:2)

“These events

Were handed down

To us

By those

Who from the beginning

Were eyewitnesses

And servants

Of the word.”

 

καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν οἱ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ λόγου,

 

Luke clearly says where his sources are coming from, unlike the other gospel writers.  He said that these things or events were handed down to him (καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν) by people who were with Jesus from the beginning (οἱ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς).  These were the eyewitnesses (αὐτόπται) and those being the servants or ministers (καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι) of the word (τοῦ λόγου), the early disciples and apostles of Jesus.  Luke was a second-generation Christian, since many of these events would have taken place before he was born.  Therefore, he was going to rely on those who were with Jesus from the beginning.  These early ministers or Jesus followers would be an important source for Luke.

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Mourn for your lost fields (Joel 1:8-1:10)

“Lament!

Like a virgin

Dressed in sackcloth

For the husband

Of her youth!

The grain offering,

The drink offering,

Are cut off

From the house

Of Yahweh.

The priests mourn.

The ministers of Yahweh

Mourn.

The fields are devastated.

The ground mourns.

The grain is destroyed.

The wine dries up.

The oil fails.”

The people should go into mourning. They should lament like a virgin who had lost the husband of her youth, dressed in sackcloth. There was not going to be any grain or drink offerings in the house of Yahweh. The priests and the ministers should mourn because the fields were devastated. The ground itself mourned because the grain was destroyed. The wine had dried up. The oil had failed. There was good reason to go into mourning.

The appointed Levitical ministerial tasks (Ezek 44:13-44:14)

“They shall not

Come near to me.

They shall not

Serve me

As a priest.

They shall not

Come near to

Any of my sacred offerings,

The things

That are most sacred.

But they shall

Bear their shame.

They shall

Bear the consequences

Of the abominations

That they have committed.

Yet I will appoint them

To keep charge

Of the temple,

To do all its chores.

They shall do

All that is to be done

In it.”

The idol worshiping Levites would be appointed to various menial tasks, so that they would be like Temple servants, rather than ministers. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, listed all the things that they could not do. They could not come near to Yahweh to serve him as a priest. They would not be allowed near any of the sacred holy offerings. They had to bear their shame. They had to suffer the consequences of their abominable actions. However, Yahweh was not going to destroy them. They were to be in charge of all the Temple chores, everything that had to be done around the Temple. They were to become second-class Levite priests or Temple servants.

Priests (Sir 7:29-7:31)

“With all your soul

Fear the Lord!

Revere his priests!

With all your might,

Love your Maker!

Do not neglect his ministers!

Fear the Lord!

Honor the priest!

Give him his portion,

As you have been commanded.

Give him

The first fruits,

The guilt offering,

The gift of the shoulders,

The sacrifice of sanctification,

The first fruits of the holy things.”

Once again, Sirach is absolute in his demands about the Israelite Levitical priests.   Listening to them was like listening to God. Obviously, you were to fear the Lord and love your Maker. You also were to revere God’s priests. Thus you should not neglect God’s ministers. They should have their portion as commanded by the law. In case there was any confusion, he specifically listed what the priests were to get, the first fruits, the guilt offerings, the shoulders, the sanctification sacrifice, and the first fruits of the holy things. I am not sure about the shoulders, but the others were common in the Torah.

Haman was happy (Esth 5:9-5:13)

“Haman went out that day from the king happy and in good spirits. But when he saw Mordecai the Jew in the courtyard, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman restrained himself. He went home. Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh. Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches and the number of his sons. He told them about all the promotions with which the king had honored him. He explained how he had advanced above the officials and ministers of the king. Haman added.

‘Even Queen Esther let no one but me

Come with the king to the banquet that she prepared.

Tomorrow also I am invited by her,

Together with the king.

Yet all this does me no good,

As long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.’”

Haman was very happy as he left the king and Queen Esther. However, when he saw Mordecai in the courtyard, he was angry. Mordecai would not recognize his authority, but Haman remained calm and went home. Once at home, he called his friends and wife and told them how wonderful things were going. Haman was a rich man with many sons. He had been promoted and honored by the king. He was the second in command in the kingdom. In fact, he had been the only one invited to a dinner with the king and his wife that day and once again he was invited tomorrow. There was only one thing that really bothered him, the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.

Plans about the western campaign (Jdt 2:1-2:3)

“In the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, there was talk in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians about carrying out his revenge on the whole region, just as he said. He summoned all his ministers and all his nobles. He set before them his secret plan. He recounted fully, with his own lips, all the wickedness of that region. They decided that everyone who had not obeyed his command should be destroyed.”

Now we are at 587 BCE, the 18th year of his reign. King Nebuchadnezzar planned his revenge against the western region. He summoned all his advisors and gave them the secret plan. They all agreed to kill everyone who had not followed his command in this wicked western region.

The Levites prepare to transport the ark (1 Chr 15:3-15:10)

“King David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of Yahweh to the place that he had prepared for it. King David gathered together the descendents of Aaron and the Levites. There were the sons of Kohath, Uriel the chief, with one hundred twenty of his kindred. There were the sons of Merari, Asaiah the chief, with two hundred twenty of his kindred. There were the sons of Gershom, Joel the chief, with one hundred thirty of his kindred. There were the sons of Elizaphan, Shemaiah the chief, with two hundred of his kindred. There were the sons of Hebron, Eliel the chief, with eighty of his kindred. There were the sons of Uzziel, Amminadab the chief, with one hundred and twelve of his kindred.”

This biblical writer said that King David called everyone to Jerusalem, which would have been difficult. More particularly, he gathered the descendents of Aaron, the 3 groups of Levites, the Kohathites, Merarites, and Gershonites with their chiefs and family. However, 3 other groups of Levites, the descendents of Elizaphan, Hebron, and Uzziel were also named, but they were actually the sons of Kohath. Thus 4 of these groups were Kohathites. Each group had a leader and a number of their clan. Thus we have the following assigned to carry and care for the Ark of the Covenant. This has become a big deal with over 800 people directly involved.