The servant of Yahweh (Matt 12:18-12:18)

“Here is my servant!

I have chosen him.

My beloved!

My soul is well pleased

With him.

I will put my Spirit

Upon him.

He shall proclaim justice

To the gentile nations.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου ὃν ᾑρέτισα, ὁ ἀγαπητός μου ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου· θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν, καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ.

 

A series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is in Isaiah, chapter 42:1.  Is it the country and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person?  Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic?  There are many chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah.  This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who he will uphold, since he is the chosen one.  Yahweh’s soul delights in him.  He puts his Spirit upon him.  This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice for all the nations.  At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes.  Mathew made a clear choice about this servant of Yahweh.  Jesus is the servant of God (Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου).  God has chosen him (ὃν ᾑρέτισα).  He is God’s beloved (ὁ ἀγαπητός μου).  The soul of God has delighted in Jesus (ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου).  God would put his Spirit on Jesus (θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  Jesus would proclaim a just judgment to the gentile nations (καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ).  The text that Matthew used is not an exact copy of the Greek or Hebrew text, but close enough.

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Yahweh’s creation (Zech 12:1-12:1)

“An Oracle.

The word of Yahweh

Concerning Israel.

Thus says Yahweh.

He stretched out the heavens.

He founded the earth.

He formed the human spirit

Within.”

Yahweh had an oracle about Israel.  Yahweh was the great creator.  He had stretched out the heavens and founded the earth.  He even placed the human spirit within people.

The ruin of the powerful trees (Zech 11:1-11:3)

“Open your doors!

O Lebanon!

Thus,

The fire may devour

Your cedars!

Wail!

O cypress!

The cedar has fallen.

The glorious trees

Are ruined!

Wail!

Oaks of Bashan!

The thick forest

Has been felled!

Listen!

To the wail of the shepherds!

Their glory is despoiled!

Listen!

To the roar of the lions!

The tickets of the Jordan

Are destroyed!”

This oracle shows various strong trees as symbols of power.  Lebanon with its great cedar trees would be devoured by fire.  The glorious cypress trees would be ruined.  The oak tree forests of Bashan would be cut down.  The glory of the shepherds would be gone.  The roaring lions in the brush tickets of the Jordan River would be destroyed.  The powerful people better look out or they would become like these trees.

The peaceful reign of Yahweh (Mic 4:3-4:3)

“He shall judge

Between many people.

He shall arbitrate

Between strong nations far away.

They shall beat their swords

Into plowshares.

They shall turn their spears

Into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up

Its sword

Against another nation.

Neither shall they learn

War anymore.”

This was a vision of a time of perpetual peace that is often cited by pacifists, exactly the same as an oracle in Isaiah, chapter 2, word for word.  Yahweh would arbitrate and judge all nations.  Then there is the famous saying that they would beat their swords into plows.  They would turn their spears into pruning hooks.  No one would lift a sword against anyone else.  People would forget how to wage war since no one would learn how to do it.  This is the utopian theocratic peace that has Jerusalem rule the world through Yahweh.  It has never happened and probably will not.

Wail over those who went down into the pit (Ezek 32:17-32:18)

“In the twelfth year,

In the first month,

On the fifteenth day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Wail over the hordes

Of Egypt!

Send them down!

With Egypt,

With the daughters

Of majestic nations,

To the world below!

They will go down

To the pit.’”

Once again there is another oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man, with a specific date, the 15th day of the 1st month of the 12th year of King Zedekiah, 586 BCE. Ezekiel was to wail over the many people from Egypt, who were being sent down to the pit, the world below, the shadowy afterlife. Egypt, with the daughters of other majestic nations, would also go down into the pit.

Lamentation over the Pharaoh of Egypt (Ezek 32:1-32:2)

“In the twelfth year,

In the twelfth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Raise a lamentation

Over Pharaoh,

King of Egypt!

Say to him!

‘You consider yourself

A lion

Among the nations.

But you are

Like a dragon

In the seas.

You trash about

In your streams.

You trouble the water

With your feet.

You foul

Your streams.’”

Once again there is another oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man, with a specific date, the 1st day of the 12th month of the 12th year of King Zedekiah, 585 BCE. Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to present a lamentation over the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. In fact, Ezekiel was to speak to him with these exact words that Yahweh was giving him. How he was going to do this is not clear. Although the king of Egypt considered himself a lion among nations, he was rather a sea monster dragon in the water, trashing around with his feet in small streams, polluting the water. In other words, the Pharaoh was not as important as he thought that he was.

Against Tyre (Ezek 26:1-26:2)

“In the eleventh year,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Tyre said

Concerning Jerusalem.

‘Aha!

Broken is

The gateway

Of the people.

It has swung open

To me.

I shall be replenished,

Now that is wasted.’”

The time for this oracle to Ezekiel, the son of man, was the 11th year of King Zedekiah, which would have been 587 BCE. The Greek translation has a mention of a month that would put it into 586 BCE. Tyre was a Phoenician costal island city that still exists in southern Lebanon, well known for its maritime trade. Actually, it would have been part of the old Israelite territory of Asher. Here, the people of Tyre seemed to have laughed at Jerusalem when the gates of that city fell. Instead of being an ally of Jerusalem, they turned against them. They took advantage of the bad situation in Jerusalem. Isaiah, also, had a long diatribe against both Tyre and Sidon in chapter 23.