The ancient pre-historic patriarchs (Lk 3:37-3:37)

“The son of Methuselah,

The son of Enoch,

The son of Jared,

The son of Mahalaleel,

The son of Cainan.”

 

τοῦ Μαθουσαλὰ τοῦ Ἐνὼχ τοῦ Ἰάρετ τοῦ Μαλελεὴλ τοῦ Καϊνὰμ

 

These names are listed in 1 Chronicles 1:2-1:3, and Genesis, chapter 5.  This group from Adam to Noah is sometimes referred to as the patriarchs before the flood, or what some might call pre-historic times, since there is very little evidence of their actual existence.  Luke said Lamech was the son of Methuselah (τοῦ Μαθουσαλὰ), the son of Enoch (τοῦ Ἐνὼχ), the son of Jared (τοῦ Ἰάρετ), the son of Mahalaleel (τοῦ Μαλελεὴλ), the son of Cainan (τοῦ Καϊνὰμ).  Methuselah was the father of Lamech.  He supposedly lived to the age of 969, longer than Adam.  Thus, it became a saying that an old man was as “old as Methuselah.”  His father was Enoch, who lived to be only 365 years old, a big drop off in age here.  However, Enoch walked with God, so that there was this strange remark that God took him, not that he died.  He was considered the seventh generation, the lucky number.  In fact, there is a Book of Enoch, from around 200 BCE, that some considered canonical.  Jared was the father of Enoch.  Mahalalel was the father of Jared.  Kenan or Cainan was the father of Mahalalel.

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Blessed God (Lk 2:28-2:28)

“Simeon took

Jesus

In his arms.

He blessed God.”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς ἐδέξατο αὐτὸ εἰς τὰς ἀγκάλας καὶ εὐλόγησεν τὸν Θεὸν

 

Luke said that Simeon took Jesus into his arms (καὶ αὐτὸς ἐδέξατο αὐτὸ εἰς τὰς ἀγκάλας).  He then blessed God (καὶ εὐλόγησεν τὸν Θεὸν).  It would seem a little odd for an old man to take a small child under two-months old into his arms without asking the mother if it was okay.  However, the blessing of God did not seem out of place here in the Jerusalem Temple.

Daniel the president of the whole kingdom (Dan 6:2-6:3)

“There were

Three presidents

Over these satraps.

Daniel was one of them.

The satraps

Gave account

To these presidents.

Thus,

The king

Might suffer no loss.

Soon

Daniel distinguished himself

Above all the other presidents,

Above all the other satraps.

Because an excellent spirit

Was in him.

The king planned

To appoint him

Over the whole kingdom.”

Daniel seemed to have a unique role. He already had an important role under King Belshazzar (550-539 BCE) of Babylon, as indicated at the end of the last chapter. Here, he took on a bigger role as president of the whole country. However, Daniel would be an old man at this time. First, he was 1 of the 3 presidents. Then the king decided to put in charge of everything because of his excellent spirit. Thus, this Judean exile Daniel was in charge in Persia and Babylon, just under the king.

Evil wives (Sir 25:16-25:20)

“I would rather live with a lion.

I would rather live with a dragon

Than live with an evil wife.

A wife’s wickedness

Changes her appearance.

Her wickedness darkens her face

Like that of a bear.

Her husband sits

Among the neighbors.

He cannot help sighing bitterly.

Any iniquity is small

Compared to a wife’s iniquity.

May a sinner’s lot befall her!

A sandy ascent

For the feet of the aged,

Such is a garrulous wife

To a quiet husband.”

Sirach continues his diatribe against women, particularly evil wives. He would rather live with a lion or a dragon, rather than an evil wife. In fact, he insists that her appearance changes because of her wickedness since her face will become dark like that of a bear. That would be some sight. Her poor husband will have to sit and eat with his neighbors and sigh bitterly. The worse kind of iniquity or evil is that committed by your wife. She should be reckoned as a sinner. This evil wife talks too much for her quiet husband. Thus he is like an old man trying to climb up a sandy dune. Sirach wants you to have pity for this poor husband with the evil wife, as if it never happened the other way around. Or perhaps he had some personal experience that colored his attitude.

Getting old (Ps 37:25-37:26)

Nun    

“I have been young.

Now I am old.

Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken.

I have not seen their children begging bread.

They are ever giving liberally and lending.

Their children become a blessing.”

This is the prayer of the old man. This is somewhat reminiscent of Job. All his life he had not seen the righteous deserted. Their children were not begging for bread. They were generous in giving and lending. Their children became a blessing to them.

The speech of Eleazar (2 Macc 6:24-6:28)

“Eleazar said.

‘Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life.

Many of the young should suppose

That Eleazar in his ninetieth year

Has gone over to an alien religion.

Through my pretense,

For the sake of living a brief moment longer,

They should be led astray because of me.

While I defile and disgrace my old age.

Even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of mortals,

Yet whether I live or die

I will not escape the hands of the Almighty.

Therefore, by bravely giving up my life now,

I will show myself worthy of my old age.

I will leave to the young

A noble example of how

To die a good death willingly and nobly

For the revered and holy laws.’”

Much like Socrates, Eleazar gave a speech talking about an honorable death. He too was old man in his 90s. He did not have to corrupt the youth by giving the impression that he was worshiping an alien god. What was the use of doing this for a few more moments of life? Why should he disgrace his old age? Whether he lived or died, he could not escape the hands of the Almighty one. He wanted to leave a noble example of following the law for the young people. So he was willing to die for the law.

King David makes Solomon king (1 Chr 23:1-23:1)

“When King David was old and full of days, he made his son Solomon king over Israel.”

This sounds like a simple statement, unless you read 1 Kings, chapters 1-3, to find out all the intrigues that Solomon, the prophet Nathan, and Solomon’s mother Bathsheba did to make it happen. It certainly happened that King David made his son Solomon king while he was still alive, but not in a simple manner. According to 1 Kings, Solomon’s older brother Adonijah believed that he was going to succeed King David, rather than Solomon. In the end, Solomon, the man of peace, killed his brother and those who opposed his coming to the throne.