The prayer of Mary (Lk 1:46-1:46)

“Mary said.

‘My soul

Magnifies

The Lord!’”

 

Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον,

 

Next Luke has a series of canticles or songs.  This first canticle of Mary is modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:1-10, that praised Yahweh. Hannah had prayed for a son.  Thus, she had a semi-miracle son called Samuel.  She wanted him to be dedicated like a Nazirite.  This prayer of Hannah took place after she had dedicated her 3-year-old son to Yahweh.  Thus, Samuel grew up with the prophet Eli.  Hannah and Samuel then became the prototypes for Mary and Jesus.  Luke indicated that Mary said (Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ) that her soul magnified, extended, or enlarged the Lord (ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον).  Thus, this Marian canticle became known as the “Magnificat,” after the Latin translated word used here.

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Joseph goes to Nazareth (Mt 2:23-1:23)

“There Joseph

Made his home

In a town called

Nazareth.

Thus,

What was spoken

Through the prophets

Might be fulfilled.

‘He will be called a Nazorean.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ· ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

 

Joseph took his family to a specific place in lower Galilee, a city called Nazareth (ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ). Somehow, this fulfilled a prophecy (ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν) about being called a Nazarene (ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται). Some of Jesus’ followers were called Nazarenes. He was also known as Jesus of Nazareth since this was his childhood home. People have been living in Nazareth for nearly 5.000 years, with over 75,000 people today, as the largest Arab city in Israel. Nazareth may have had a population of about 400 at the time of Jesus. The town of Nazareth is about 20 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about 6 miles west of Mount Tabor, but over 100 miles from Jerusalem. It is difficult to pinpoint where this prophecy comes from. In Judges, chapter 13:2-7, there is a comment that a boy will be a Nazirite from birth, so that no one should cut his hair. Thus, he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. According to Numbers, chapter 6:1-21, there were rules laid out for those who would take the Nazirite vows. They would not drink wine, nor shave their beards. They were not to go near a corpse. They had to bring special offerings to the Temple. This separation and special consecration may have been present among other ancient people, but here it is under Mosaic Law. The normal time period, according to some rabbinic schools, was about a month of Nazirite vows, although others may have been longer. Some have referred to John the Baptist as a Nazirite. On top of that, Jesus of Nazareth may have been confused with Jesus the Nazirite. Is that the case here?

The birth and consecration of Samuel (1 Sam 1:19-1:28)

“They rose early in the morning and worshiped before Yahweh. Then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew Hannah his wife. Yahweh remembered her. In due time, Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel. She said. ‘I have asked him of Yahweh.’”

After intercourse, knowing each other, Hannah had a child because Yahweh had remembered her. They called him Samuel. There is a question on whether it should have been ‘sha’al’ or ‘shem-el.’ Saul (sha’al) would have been about asking God but Samuel (shem-el) is the name of God. Anyway his name is Samuel. We will get a Saul later.

“The man Elkanah and his entire household went up to offer to Yahweh the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up. She said to her husband. ‘As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him that he may appear in the presence of Yahweh, and abide there forever. I will offer him as a Nazirite for all time. Elkanah her husband said to her. ‘Do what seems best to you. Wait until you have weaned him. Only, may Yahweh establish his word.’ So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him.”

At the yearly sacrifice, Hannah did not want to go because the child was breast feeding and not weaned. She said that she was going to offer him as a Nazirite when she would go to Shiloh. However, Elkanah told her to stay home if you wanted to. So she stayed at home until Samuel was weaned.

“When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of Yahweh at Shiloh. The child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull. They brought the child to Eli. She said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to Yahweh. For this child I prayed. Yahweh has granted me my petition which I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to Yahweh. As long as he lives, he is given to Yahweh.’ They worshiped Yahweh there.”

However, once the child was weaned, she went to Shiloh to offer a sacrifice to Yahweh of a 3 year old bull. She brought young Samuel to the temple of Yahweh at Shiloh. There they saw Eli. She reminded him that she was the lady in the temple that he confronted. She showed him the child Samuel. Then she gave or lent Samuel to Yahweh and they all worshiped Yahweh.

The announcement of the birth of Samson (Judg 13:2-13:7)

“There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren, having borne no children. The angel of Yahweh appeared to the woman and said to her. ‘Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, and eat anything unclean. You shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.’ Then the woman came and told her husband. ‘A man of God came to me. His appearance was like that of an angel of God, most awe-inspiring. I did not ask him where he came from. He did not tell me his name. But he said to me. ‘You shall conceive and bear a son. Drink no wine or strong drink. Eat nothing unclean. The boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death.’”

Samson is a real folk hero, almost a super-hero. Zorah was a town on the Judah/Dan border, about 15 miles west of Jerusalem. Manoah was from the southern tribe of Dan, who had a barren wife. This story has some of the attributes of the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis. The angel of Yahweh tells this unnamed wife of Manoah that she will conceive a son even though she is barren. She gets some good pre-natal advice from this angel to not drink wine or strong drink, nor eat anything unclean. In a strange comment, this boy will be a Nazirite from birth, so that no one should cut his hair. However, according to Numbers, chapter 6, the Nazirite person takes a vow to do this. This boy will deliver Israel from the Philistines. In this case, he will be a life time Nazirite. She went and told her husband about this awe-inspiring person who did not give his name and where he was from. She just repeated what he told her.