Punishment for the weeds at the harvest end times (Mt 13:41-13:42)

“The Son of Man

Will send his angels.

They will collect out

Of his kingdom

All causes of sin

And all evildoers.

They will throw them

Into the furnace of fire.

There will be weeping

And gnashing of teeth.”

 

ἀποστελεῖ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ, καὶ συλλέξουσιν ἐκ τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ σκάνδαλα καὶ τοὺς ποιοῦντας τὴν ἀνομίαν,

καὶ βαλοῦσιν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν κάμινον τοῦ πυρός· ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων.

 

Only Matthew has this explanation about the parable of the weeds, in chapter 13:24-30.  Here it is the harvest time, the end times, when the Son of Man would send out his angel reapers or messengers (ἀποστελεῖ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ).  These angels or harvesters would collect and gather out of his kingdom (καὶ συλλέξουσιν ἐκ τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ) all the snares or causes of sin (πάντα τὰ σκάνδαλα), the sinners, and those practicing unlawfulness (καὶ τοὺς ποιοῦντας τὴν ἀνομίαν), the evil ones.  Then these angel reapers would burn them like the weeds in the parable.  They would throw them into the furnace of fire (καὶ βαλοῦσιν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν κάμινον τοῦ πυρός), where there would be weeping or lamenting and gnashing or grinding of teeth (ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων).  This later was the normal form of mourning or behavior of those who were upset or frustrated.  The evil weeds would be allowed to grow with the good grain until the end times of the harvest.  However, the evil weeds or the evil doers would suffer in fire and frustration as their final reward at the harvest end times.

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah (Mt 2:17-2:18)

“Then was fulfilled

What had been spoken

Through the prophet Jeremiah.

‘A voice is heard

In Ramah.

Wailing

With loud lamentation.

Rachel is weeping

For her children.

She refuses to be consoled,

Because they are no more.’”

 

τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμὰ ἠκούσθη, κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς·

Ῥαχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς, καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν.

 

Matthew once again has a prophetic citation, but this time explicitly from the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 31:15. He said that the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled here (τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος). In the Jeremiah prophecy, Yahweh talked about Rachel, one of the wives of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. At the time of Jeremiah, Rachel had been dead and buried for a long time at Ramah, about 6 miles north of Jerusalem in the former Benjamin territory. Thus, Rachel (Ῥαχὴλ) was loudly lamenting from her grave. Jeremiah said that a voice from Ramah was heard (Φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμὰ ἠκούσθη). She was weeping bitterly and mourning (κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς) for her lost children (κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς). She refused to be comforted (οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι), because they were dead and gone. They were no more (ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν). Here Matthew, used this saying to apply to the innocent male children that Herod had killed. In the follow up to the Rachel story in Jeremiah, Yahweh told her to stop weeping and dry her tears, because she was going to be rewarded with descendants. There is no indication of that here in this text.

The useless worship of God (Mal 3:14-3:15)

“You have said.

‘It is vain

To serve God.

What do we profit

By keeping his commands?

What do we profit

By walking

As mourning

Before Yahweh of hosts?

Now we count the arrogant

Happy.

Evildoers not only prosper,

But when they put God

To the test,

They escape.’”

The people of Israel were saying that it was useless to worship God.  What did they gain by keeping his commandments?  How did it help them by walking around mourning before Yahweh?  The arrogant ones were the happy ones.  The evildoers not only prospered, but when they defied God, they escaped.  What was the value of their Yahweh worship?

Against the small towns in Judah (Mic 1:10-1:12)

“Tell it not in Gath!

Weep not at all

In Beth-leaphrah!

Roll yourselves in the dust!

Inhabitants of Shaphir!

Pass on your way

In nakedness and shame!

The inhabitants of Zaanan

Do not come forth

From their town.

Beth-ezel is wailing.

They shall remove its support

From you.

The inhabitants of Maroth

Wait anxiously

For good.

Yet disaster has come down

From Yahweh

To the gates of Jerusalem.”

In a play on words, Micah wailed against 10 small Judean towns near where he lived.  One of the largest towns mentioned was the old Philistine town of Gath that King Uzziah (781-740 BCE) had conquered.  Micah used the same terminology as in 2 Samuel, chapter 1, about Gath, since there should be no weeping for that town.  Then Micah turned to 5 small towns that are difficult to determine where they were.  Beth-leaphrah literally means rolling around in dust.  Shaphir literally means the fair one.  Thus, the good-looking people of this town of Shaphir should keep going in their naked shame.  On the other hand, the people of Zaanan did not come out to fight from their town.  Beth-ezel was mourning and not supporting Yahweh.  The people of Maroth were waiting anxiously for something good to happen.  Yet Yahweh sent a disaster that went as far as the gates of Jerusalem.

The positive response of the people of Nineveh (Jon 3:5-3:5)

“The people of Nineveh

Believed God.

They proclaimed a fast.

Everyone,

Great and small,

Put on sackcloth.”

In a sudden conversion or the fear of destruction, the people of Nineveh believed in God.  Notice that they believed in God, not Yahweh, which would have been more difficult.  Just like on the boat, Jonah seemed to be successful, even if he was not trying very hard.  They proclaimed a fast.  Then everyone, no matter whether they were important or not, put on sackcloth to go into mourning.

Yahweh will not forget (Am 8:7-8:8)

“Yahweh has sworn

By the pride of Jacob,

‘Surely,

I will never forget

Any of their deeds.

Shall not the land tremble

On this account?

Every one mourns

Who lives in it.

All of it rises

Like the Nile.

They will be tossed about.

They will sink again,

Like the Nile of Egypt.’”

Yahweh swore by the pride of Jacob, that is the land itself.  He was not going to forget their evil deeds.  The land would tremble on their account.  Everyone who lived there would be in mourning, since the land would move up and down.  They would be tossed about, as if they were on the Nile River in Egypt.

Yahweh himself calls for a return (Joel 2:12-2:12)

“Yahweh says.

‘Yet even now!

Return to me!

With all your heart!

Return with fasting!

Return with weeping!

Return with mourning!

Rend your hearts!

Not your garments!’”

Joel has Yahweh speak directly in the first-person singular. Yahweh himself wanted them to return to him, with all their hearts, after this devastating plague of locusts has hit them. They were to return to Yahweh by fasting, weeping, and mourning. They were to break open their hearts, and not tear their garments.

The cedar tree goes down into Sheol (Ezek 31:15-31:15)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘On the day

It went down

To Sheol,

I closed the deep

Over it.

I covered it.

I restrained

Its rivers.

It mighty waters

Were checked.

I clothed Lebanon

In gloom

For it.

All the trees

Of the field

Fainted

Because of it.’”

Once again, carrying on the theme that Yahweh was in control of all the trees, Yahweh closed the deep abyss that had given water to this great cedar tree. Yahweh covered over and restrained the deep abyss streams that were now held in check. The cedar tree, like other humans, had gone to Sheol, the shadowy underworld afterlife place. Thus, Lebanon was in gloom and mourning for the lost personified tree. Also, all the other trees of the forest fainted because of this happening.

Weeping for the god Tammuz (Ezek 8:14-8:15)

“Then he brought me

To the entrance

Of the north gate

Of the house

Of Yahweh.

Women were sitting there,

Weeping

For Tammuz.

Then he said to me.

‘Have you seen this?

O son of man!

You will see

Still greater abominations

Than these.’”

Next Yahweh brought Ezekiel to the north gate of the Temple. Women were sitting there weeping for the god Tammuz, a food or vegetation god common among Assyrians and Babylonians. He was the only god explicitly mentioned in this tour of the abominations in Israel. The weeping for the lost of Tammuz was generally around the summer solstice, when the vegetation began to dry out. Thus Tammuz would descent into hell at this time. These women were weeping and mourning for his loss. Interesting enough, the Church of the Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem was built on an old shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. Once again, in the same terms, Yahweh warned Ezekiel that he had not seen anything yet. There were still greater abominations to come.

The survivors (Ezek 7:16-7:18)

“If any survivors escape,

They will be found

On the mountains,

Like doves

Of the valleys.

All of them

Will be moaning

Over their iniquity.

All hands

Shall grow feeble.

All knees

Shall turn to water.

They shall put on

Sackcloth.

Horror

Shall cover them.

Shame shall be

On all faces.

Baldness shall be

On all their heads.”

Instead of being taken captive, these survivors escaped and headed to the hills. They could be found in the mountains, like droves of valley doves. They would all be moaning over their iniquity. However, their hands would grow feeble, while their knees would turn to jelly or water. They would put on sackcloth, as if in mourning. Horror would cover them. Shame would be all over their faces. They would have shaved bald heads. These survivors would not be a happy lot, even if they were alive.