The seventy (Lk 10:1-10:1)

“After this,

The Lord

Appointed seventy others.

He sent them

On ahead of him,

In pairs,

Into every town

And place

Where he himself

Intended to go.”

 

Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἀνέδειξεν ὁ Κύριος ἑτέρους ἑβδομήκοντα, καὶ ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς ἀνὰ δύο πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ εἰς πᾶσαν πόλιν καὶ τόπον οὗ ἤμελλεν αὐτὸς ἔρχεσθαι.

 

Luke uniquely spoke about these 70 disciples.  He said that after these comments (Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα) about the demands of discipleship, the Lord (ὁ Κύριος), not Jesus, appointed 70 others disciples (ἀνέδειξεν ἑτέρους ἑβδομήκοντα), who were not the 12 apostles.  He sent them on ahead of him or his face (πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ), in pairs (καὶ ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς ἀνὰ δύο), into every town and place (εἰς πᾶσαν πόλιν καὶ τόπον) where he himself intended to go (οὗ ἤμελλεν αὐτὸς ἔρχεσθαι).  They were to be his front men or advance people.  There was no mention of these 70 disciples in the other gospel stories, only here in Luke.  This group of 70 was reminiscent of the elders with Moses in Numbers, chapter 11:24-25, where Moses gathered the 70 elders of the people around the tent.  Then Yahweh took some of the Spirit that was upon him and put it upon the 70 elders.  These elders temporarily prophesied.  This sharing of power may have helped Moses, since God gave some of the power of his spirit to these 70 elders.  Thus, the Jerusalem Jewish Sanhedrin had 70 members.  These 70 missionaries of Jesus went out in pairs, two by two, a common practice in the early Church.  Mark, chapter 6:7, said that Jesus sent out his 12 apostles in pairs, two by two, also.  Interesting enough, the activities of these 70 missionaries seem to be much like the 12 apostles as described earlier in chapter 9:2-4.  Have you ever been on a missionary expedition?

Jesse (Lk 3:32-3:32)

“The son of Jesse,

The son of Obed,

The son of Boaz,

The son of Sala,

The son of Nahshon.”

 

τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ τοῦ Ἰωβὴδ τοῦ Βοὸς τοῦ Σαλὰ τοῦ Ναασσὼν

 

This is pretty much the same as Matthew, chapter 1:5-6, as the genealogies almost match here.  Luke said that David was the son of Jesse (τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ), the son of Obed (τοῦ Ἰωβὴδ), the son of Boaz (τοῦ Βοὸς), the son of Sala (τοῦ Σαλὰ), and the son of Nahshon (τοῦ Ναασσὼν).  The genealogy at the end of Ruth, chapter 4:18-22, goes from Judah to David.  Nahshon was a famous warrior prince of Judah, especially in Numbers, chapter 7:12.  Nahshon was the father of Salma or Salmon (Σαλμών), the direct male ancestor of King David, and all of the kings of the Kingdom of Judah.  Sala or Salmon was the father of Boaz with Rahab his wife.  Boaz was the father of Obed with Ruth his wife.  Obed was the father of Jesse.  Jesse had 7 sons with King David the youngest son.  Ruth was a Moabite non-Jewish widow.  She traveled to Israel with her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi.  There she then married Boaz in a beautiful love story in the biblical book of Ruth.

The Christmas scene birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7-2:7)

“Mary gave birth

To her first-born son.

She wrapped him

In bands

Of swaddling cloths.

She laid him

In a manger,

Because there was

No place

For them

In the inn.”

 

καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

 

Luke explained in great detail about the birth of Jesus, his clothing, and the manger, that has become the famous Christmas scene that most have come to know and love.  Matthew, chapter 2:1, had no details like this in his story about the birth of Jesus, while Mark and John had no infancy narratives at all.  In fact, Matthew said that the Magi visited Mary and the child in a house in chapter 2:11, not a manger.  Luke reported that Mary gave birth to her first-born son (καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον).  Did that imply that there were other children?  Within the Jewish tradition, the first-born male child would be dedicated to God with special legal and family rights, as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:2, where Yahweh got the first-born of everything, as a consecration to God.  In Numbers, chapter 3:12, the Levites take the place of the first born as a dedication to God.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 21:17, the first born had all the rights versus the other children.  Mary wrapped the baby Jesus with bands of cloth or swaddling clothes (καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν), as it is often called.  These tight bands of cloth kept the arms and legs of the newborn from wailing away, while also keeping the child warm.  Then Mary laid him in a manger (καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ), because there was no place for them in the lodging inn (διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι).  This manger (ἐν φάτνῃ) was a feeding trough for horses and cattle.  Thus, Jesus was born in a place where animals would feed.  He then would offer himself as the bread of life.  Apparently, they were in a barn because there were no appropriate lodging places for a pregnant expecting woman.  There was no indication that Joseph had other relatives in Bethlehem where they might stay.  Just by coincidence, I am posting this blog on December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve.

The Hail Mary greeting (Lk 1:28-1:28)

“The angel Gabriel

Came to her.

He said.

‘Hail!

Full of grace!

The Lord is

With you!’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν εἶπεν Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ.

 

Luke said that this angel Gabriel came to Mary (καὶ εἰσελθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν).  He greeted her with the traditional Greek salutation “Hail” or “I am happy to see you” (Χαῖρε).  She was the favored one or the one full of grace (κεχαριτωμένη).  The “Lord is with you” (ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ) is an ancient Hebrew greeting found in Ruth, chapter 2:4, 2 Chronicles, chapter 15:2, Numbers, chapter 14:42, and 1 Samuel, chapter 17:37.  The impact of this angelic greeting has had a profound effect on Christian prayer life.  The famous simple popular prayer to Mary is often called the “Hail Mary” based on this passage.  “Hail Mary!  Full of grace!  the Lord is with you!”  This medieval 11th century Marian Latin prayer “Ave Maria” is the Latin translation of these Greek verses as found in the Latin Vulgate.  The second line was “full of grace” or “gratia plena” and the third line was “Dominus vobiscum,” or the “Lord be with you.”  This later phrase “Dominus vobiscum,” was and is also part of the ancient and contemporary Roman Catholic Eucharistic Mass service, as a priestly greeting to the congregation.  These verses serve as the foundational biblical statements for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, not Jesus.

He will not drink strong drink (Lk 1:15-1:15)

“John will be great

In the sight

Of the Lord.

He must never

Drink wine,

Or any strong drink.

He will be filled

With the Holy Spirit,

Even before his birth,

From his mother’s womb.”

 

ἔσται γὰρ μέγας ἐνώπιον Κυρίου, καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ, καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου πλησθήσεται ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ,

 

Now comes the jolt, as the role of this John would be made clear.  This angel, via Luke, pointed out that this child will not be just another Jewish kid, but someone special, befitting his special birth.  Luke had the angel continue that John would be great in the sight of the Lord (ἔσται γὰρ μέγας ἐνώπιον Κυρίου).  However, he must never drink wine, or any strong intoxicating drink (καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ), like a Nazirite, a person dedicated to God, as in Numbers, chapter 6:1-4.  Either a man or woman could take these Nazirite vows that made them closer to Yahweh.  In Hebrew the term “nazir” meant a vow, so that it was possible for a non-Levite to be a favorite of Yahweh also.  Vow taking in most religious groups sets those people apart, just as the religious vows of the medieval Catholic Church became popular, producing vowed monks and nuns.  A striking English comment would be that these are “Nazi rites.”  This Nazirite vow separates them from normal life, especially from wine and anything to do with grapes.  The Nazirite stayed away from grapes of any kind.  Thus, John was to be filled with the Holy Spirit (καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου πλησθήσεται) even before his birth, from his mother’s womb (ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ).  John would be holy before he was born.  The Holy Spirit would play a major role in the works of Luke here and in Acts.  This special role of John is similar to Samuel in 1 Samuel, chapter 1:11, and Samson in Judges, chapter 13:4-7, in the Hebrew Bible.  Both were dedicated to be Nazirites before their birth.  John was to be a special dude.

 

What the Pharisees wear (Mt 23:5-23:5)

“The Pharisees

And Scribes

Do all their deeds

To be seen by other men.

They make

Their phylacteries broad.

Their fringes

Are long.”

 

πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα,

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes did all their deeds to be seen by other men (πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  They broadened their phylacteries (πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν) and enlarged their long fringes or tassels (καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα) on their clothes.  Thus, they had distinctive garments that they wore.  These phylacteries were leather boxes that contained scriptural passages.  They would wear them on their forearms or head as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:9-16.  and Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-9, that was closely tied to the “Shema.”  They were to write these biblical sayings of the law on their hands and forehead.  On the other hand, the fringes or tassels on the bottom of their clothing was based on Numbers, chapter 15:37-41.  They made the tassels on the four corners of their garments, with a blue chord on the fringe of each corner.  This was to remember all the commandments of Yahweh, a nice little reminder about their obligations.  Ever today, some Jewish groups wear these tassels called the tzitzit.  The same command about tassels can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 22:12.  Apparently, the Pharisees may have been the only ones wearing these larger tassels and large prayer boxes.

The priests in the Temple (Mt 12:5-12:5)

“Have you not read

In the law

That on the Sabbath

The priests in the temple

Break the Sabbath.

Yet they are guiltless?”

 

ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν καὶ ἀναίτιοί εἰσιν;

 

This saying is unique to Matthew.  He has Jesus cite an example in Numbers, chapter 28:9-10, where there was a special sacrifice only on the Sabbath.  This sacrifice had two male one-year old lambs without blemish, and two-tenths of an ephah of choice flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering.  This was the burnt offering every Sabbath.  This was in addition to the regular burnt offerings and the drink offerings.  However, this sacrifice was not mentioned in any other place in the Torah.  Jesus asked them if they had read the law (ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ) where on the Sabbath (ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν), the priests in the temple (οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ) broke or profaned the Sabbath with these sacrifices (τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν), yet they were guiltless (καὶ ἀναίτιοί εἰσιν).