A parable near Jerusalem (Lk 19:11-19:11)

“As they were listening

To these things,

Jesus proceeded

To tell a parable.

He was near Jerusalem.

Thus,

They supposed

That the kingdom of God

Was to appear

Immediately.”

 

Ἀκουόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ταῦτα προσθεὶς εἶπεν παραβολὴν, διὰ τὸ ἐγγὺς εἶναι Ἱερουσαλὴμ αὐτὸν καὶ δοκεῖν αὐτοὺς ὅτι παραχρῆμα μέλλει ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀναφαίνεσθαι·

 

Only Luke had this unique introduction to this parable.  He said that as the disciples were listening to these things (Ἀκουόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ταῦτα), presumably the story about Zacchaeus, Jesus proceeded to tell another parable (προσθεὶς εἶπεν παραβολὴν).  He was near his Jerusalem goal (διὰ τὸ ἐγγὺς εἶναι Ἱερουσαλὴμ αὐτὸν), which meant that he was in Jericho or between Jericho and Jerusalem.  The disciples supposed or thought (καὶ δοκεῖν αὐτοὺς) that the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ) was about to appear immediately or soon (ὅτι παραχρῆμα μέλλει…ἀναφαίνεσθαι).  Somehow the disciples assumed that if they got to Jerusalem, the kingdom of God would be revealed to them.  They anticipated that the messianic age would happen.  Some more revolutionary followers may have even expected a political earthly kingdom to be established, in opposition to the Roman occupation.  This parable was meant to tone down their expectations about an earthly kingdom and the immediacy of this new heavenly kingdom.  Do you expect the the kingdom of God to come soon?

The prophets in general

Some prophets wrote things, while others had people write things about them.  Thus, there is a mixed bag about the Hebrew prophets.  Generally speaking, a prophet was someone who believed that a higher power had contacted them.  Thus, they became the intermediary between Yahweh, their God, and their fellow human beings.  Almost like angels, these humans delivered a divine message.  Quite often, the message itself that the prophet conveyed was called a prophecy.  The Hebrew prophets were moral teachers.  Some prophets may have had a role with the institutional Temple priests.  Many religious groups have had what are called prophetic priests.  The Hebrew word navi, meaning spokesperson, has been traditionally translated as prophet.  These navi was considered to be the mouth of Yahweh or God, since they were open to receive and transmit his divine wisdom.  Besides writing and speaking messages from God, these Israelite Nevi’im often acted out prophetic parables in their life.  They were not always praised, since some prophets were even considered bad or false prophets.  Thus, they were sometimes the target of persecution and opposition.

King Demetrius II and the growing opposition to him (1 Macc 11:38-11:40)

“When King Demetrius saw that the land was quiet before him since there was no opposition to him, he dismissed all his troops. All of them went to their own houses, except the foreign troops which he had recruited from the islands of the nations. Thus all the troops who had served his predecessors hated him. A certain Trypho had formerly been one of King Alexander’s supporters. He saw that all the troops were grumbling against King Demetrius. So he went to Imalkue the Arab, who was bringing up Antiochus, the young son of Alexander. He insistently urged him to hand Antiochus over to him, to make him king in place of his father. He also reported to Imalkue what King Demetrius had done. He told him of the hatred that the troops of King Demetrius had for him. He stayed there many days.”

King Demetrius II was quite content that he had achieved peace with no opposition. Therefore, he released all his local army troops and sent them hone, probably to save money. However, he kept the foreign troops that he had recruited. Thus there was a little dissension as the former Syrian troops grumbled against King Demetrius II. Now we see Trypho, a former supporter of King Alexander I, trying to get King Alexander’s son Antiochus to become king. Somehow Imalkue an Arab was taking care of him. Trypho tried to get Imalkue to give him Antiochus so that he could make him king of Syria. He stayed many days with Imalkue.

The decree is against one group of disruptive people (Greek text only)

“I asked my counselors how this peace might be accomplished. Haman excels among us in sound judgment. He is distinguished for his unchanging good will and steadfast fidelity. Thus he has attained the second place in the kingdom. He pointed out to us that among all the nations in the world there is scattered a certain hostile people, who have laws contrary to those of every nation. They continually disregard the ordinances of kings. Thus the unifying of the kingdom that we honorably intend cannot be brought about. We understand that this people and it alone, stands constantly in opposition to every nation, perversely following a strange manner of life and laws. They are ill-disposed to our government. They do all the harm they can so that our kingdom may not attain stability.”

This great peaceful king asked his counselors how peace could be achieved and maintained. His number two man, Haman had sound judgment, good will, and fidelity. He pointed out that there was one ethnic group of people scattered among the 127 provinces who were hostile to all the over nations and people. They disregarded the royal ordinances. They have a strange perverse life style with their own laws. They do not like our government and they are ruining any stability that we might attain. Interesting enough, these Persian kings were tolerant and not looking for uniformity. In fact, these are like many of the complaints against the Jews in the later Hellenistic period thus indicating its origin. There is no indication that Persians ever disliked the Jews, since Nehemiah was a cup bearer as a Jew to this same king. Clearly this is the work of Haman who disliked a certain group of so-called outsiders. However, there is no specific mention of Jews in this Greek text.