Who is this man? (Mt 21:10-21:11)

“When Jesus

Entered Jerusalem,

The whole city

Was in turmoil.

Asking.

‘Who is this?’

The crowds were saying.

‘This is the prophet Jesus

From Nazareth

Of Galilee.’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἐσείσθη πᾶσα ἡ πόλις λέγουσα Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος;

οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι ἔλεγον Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲθ τῆς Γαλιλαίας.

 

Only Matthew has these remarks about what happened to Jesus as he entered the city of Jerusalem (καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα).  Matthew said that the whole city was in turmoil or stirred up wondering (ἐσείσθη πᾶσα ἡ πόλις) who was this man entering the city (Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος).  The crowds (οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι), a favorite theme of Matthew, said that this was the prophet Jesus (ἔλεγον Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης Ἰησοῦς), from Nazareth in Galilee (ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲθ τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  How the crowds could speak with one voice was not explained.  However, there was no messianic overtone here, but merely Jesus as a northern prophet.  Also note that the emphasis was on Jesus from Galilee, the north, rather than a Judean or a southerner.

Elijah (Sir 48:1-48:3)

“Then Elijah arose.

He was a prophet,

Like a fire.

His word burned

Like a torch.

He brought a famine

Upon them.

By his zeal

He made them

Few in number.

By the word of the Lord

He shut up the heavens.

Three times also

He brought down fire.”

Sirach seems to be relying on the Elijah cycle of stories from 1 Kings, chapters 17-18. This 9th century BCE northern prophet, Elijah, from the east side of the Jordan River in the town of Tishbe, the Gilead, went to the king of Northern Israel, King Ahab (874-853 BCE). Elijah was like a fire as his words were like a flaming torch. He foretold the famine that reduced the number of people in Israel. He foretold this famine, not brought as Sirach said. Elijah was able to control the heavens with his prayers, so that he could bring an end to this drought. He also had a faceoff with the 450 Baal priests or Jezebel’s prophets when he confronted the practices of King Ahab and his wife. Elijah then had Yahweh send down fire on his wet wood. Although the original story did not mention how many times the fire came down, Sirach mentions that it was 3 times.