Mosaic law of taking a dead man’s wife (Lk 20:28-20:28)

“These Sadducees

Asked him a question.

‘Teacher!’

Moses wrote for us

That if a man’s brother dies,

Leaving a wife childless,

The man shall marry

The widow.

He will raise up children

For his brother.’”

 

λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν, ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ ἔχων γυναῖκα, καὶ οὗτος ἄτεκνος ᾖ, ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that these Sadducees asked Jesus a question (λέγοντες), respectfully calling him “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε)!”  They said that Moses wrote for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν) in Deuteronomy, chapter 25:5-10, that if a man’s brother dies (ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ), leaving a wife childless (ἔχων γυναῖκα, καὶ οὗτος ἄτεκνος ᾖ), that man should marry the widow (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα) to raise up children or seed for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer to use this word ἄτεκνος, that means childless.  Matthew, chapter 22:24, and Mark, chapter 12:19, are almost word for word as here in LukeMark said that these Sadducees addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).”  They quoted a Mosaic text that Moses had written for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν),  If a man’s brother should die (ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ) leaving behind a wife (καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα) without any children (καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον), his living brother should take his dead brother’s widow as his wife (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα).  He would then raise up the descendant children or seeds for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  Matthew indicated that these Sadducees also addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher” or “Rabbi (λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε).”  They quoted a Mosaic text, as Moses said (Μωϋσῆς εἶπεν).  If a man died without any children (Ἐάν τις ἀποθάνῃ μὴ ἔχων τέκνα), his brother should marry the widow (ἐπιγαμβρεύσει ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ).  He would then raise up the descendants for his brother (καὶ ἀναστήσει σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  This levirate law goes back as far as Tamar in Genesis, chapter 38:1-30, with the story of Judah’s 3 sons and Tamar, the original wife of Er.  The brother of the deceased was supposed to marry his brother’s widow if he had no sons.  The widow was not to marry outside her family.  It also assumes that the brother lived close by or in the same house as his brother.  There was no indication of whether the brother was married or not, but this seems to assume a younger brother.  This was an attempt to prolong the heritage and name of a person, which was common in ancient times.  The punishment for the brother’s refusal was an insult, rather than any physical punishment.  Would you marry the wife or husband or your dead brother or sister?

The rejected stone (Lk 20:17-20:17)

“But Jesus

Looked at them.

He said.

‘What then does

This text mean?’

‘The very stone

That the builders rejected

Has become

The cornerstone.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς εἶπεν Τί οὖν ἐστιν τὸ γεγραμμένον τοῦτο Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας;

 

Luke indicated that Jesus looked at them (ὁ δὲ ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς).  He asked (εἶπεν) what this written biblical text meant (Τί οὖν ἐστιν τὸ γεγραμμένον τοῦτο)?  He then quoted Psalm 118, 22 that the very stone that the builders had rejected (Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες) has become the chief headstone or the cornerstone (οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας) of the building.  This citation of Psalm 118:22-23 can also be found in Matthew, chapter 21:42, and in Mark, chapter 12:10-11, but in a longer version.  Mark said that Jesus asked them if they had not read the scriptures (οὐδὲ τὴν γραφὴν ταύτην ἀνέγνωτε) especially Psalm 118, that was also part of the Hallel prayer.  Then Jesus quoted a few verses of this psalm about the stone that the builders had rejected (Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες), because they probably thought that it was inferior.  Now, that very stone has become the cornerstone or key head stone (οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας) of that building.  Then he added that this was the work of the Lord (παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη) that was amazing and marvelous to everyone’s eyes (καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν).  Matthew indicated that Jesus asked them (Λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) if they had read the scriptures (Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς)?  Then Jesus quoted a few verses of this Psalm 118: 22-23, the same as Mark, with a line more than Luke, about the stone that the builders had rejected (Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς), because they probably thought that it was inferior.  Now, that very stone has become the cornerstone or key head stone (οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας) of that building.  This was the work of the Lord (παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη) that was amazing and marvelous to everyone’s eyes (καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν).  The rejected cornerstone was a hint at Jesus’s own rejection by the Jewish leaders that would be a big mistake.  Have you ever misjudged the value of a person?

Fasting and tithing (Lk 18:12-18:12)

“I fast

Twice a week.

I give a tenth

Of all my income.”

 

νηστεύω δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου, ἀποδεκατεύω πάντα ὅσα κτῶμαι.

 

Luke has Jesus tell this parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector that is only found in this gospel.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this Pharisee said that he fasted twice a week (νηστεύω δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου) and he gave a tenth of all his income (ποδεκατεύω πάντα ὅσα κτῶμαι).  Normally, the Pharisees fasted on Mondays and Thursdays.  This was a good thing.  This Pharisee fasted and did not eat twice a week.  Besides, he tithed all his income, as he gave 10% to the Temple.  There was nothing wrong with this behavior.  He was a faithful Jewish person.  The problem was his attitude, not how he acted.  Was is your attitude toward your religious practices?

Forgiveness (Lk 17:4-17:4)

“If the same person

Sins against you

Seven times

A day,

Yet turns back

To you

Seven times,

And says.

‘I repent!’

You must forgive!”

 

καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ λέγων Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that if the same person sinned against you (ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ) 7 times a day (καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας), yet turned back to you 7 times (καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ), and said that he repented (Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ), you must still forgive him (ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ).  There is something like this saying in Matthew, chapter 18:21-22, although there was no mention of Peter here in LukeMatthew indicated that Peter took on a specific leadership role.  He wanted to know how many times he should forgive his brother’s sins?  Peter wanted to know how often he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him (ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ).  Peter thought that 7 would be a good number.  Was 7 times enough (ἕως ἑπτάκις)?  Most Jewish people had forgiven offenses 3 times.  3 strikes and you were out.  Peter seemed overly generous in his attempts at forgiveness.  Jesus surprised Peter with a solemn declaration (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦ) by telling him to forgive his brother’s sins not just 7 times (Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις) but 490 times, 7*70 (ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά).  However, this saying about 7*70 was unique to Matthew, who was the only one who ever used this number ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά in the New Testament literature.  This number, nevertheless, could be found in Genesis, chapter 4:24 when Cain and Lamech were talking about violent revenge.  Lamech wanted his vengeance 7*70.  Was this number an attempt to indicate infinity before we had that term?  490 seems overly generous in any circumstances.  However, here in Luke, it might be even more since forgiveness was expected 7 times each day.  How many times do you forgive people?

 

One hundred sheep (Lk 15:4-15:4)

“Which one of you

Having a hundred sheep,

And losing

One of them,

Does not leave

The ninety-nine

In the wilderness?

You would

Go after the one

That was lost,

Until you found it.”

 

Τίς ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ὑμῶν ἔχων ἑκατὸν πρόβατα καὶ ἀπολέσας ἐξ αὐτῶν ἓν οὐ καταλείπει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ καὶ πορεύεται ἐπὶ τὸ ἀπολωλὸς ἕως εὕρῃ αὐτό;

 

Luke indicated that Jesus questioned them whether anyone of them (Τίς ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ὑμῶν) who had 100 sheep (ἔχων ἑκατὸν πρόβατα), but lost one of them (καὶ ἀπολέσας ἐξ αὐτῶν ἓν), would then not leave the 99 in the open field wilderness (οὐ καταλείπει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ)?  He would go after the one that was lost (καὶ πορεύεται ἐπὶ τὸ ἀπολωλὸς), until he found it (ἕως εὕρῃ αὐτό).  This parable of the lost sheep can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:12, with some minor changes, perhaps a Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that this person, man, or shepherd had 100 sheep (ἐὰν γένηταί τινι ἀνθρώπῳ ἑκατὸν πρόβατα).  One of these sheep wandered away from the rest of them and was lost (καὶ πλανηθῇ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν).  Thus, would he not leave the other 99 sheep in the mountains (οὐχὶ ἀφήσει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη)?  He would then search for the lost sheep that had wandered away (καὶ πορευθεὶς ζητεῖ τὸ πλανώμενον).  This was a simple question.  Would you leave 99 sheep to search for one lost sheep?

The lowest place (Lk 14:9-14:9)

“The host

Who invited

Both of you

May come

And say to you.

‘Give this person

Your place.’

Then with disgrace,

You would start

To take

The lowest place.”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ σὲ καὶ αὐτὸν καλέσας ἐρεῖ σοι Δὸς τούτῳ τόπον, καὶ τότε ἄρξῃ μετὰ αἰσχύνης τὸν ἔσχατον τόπον κατέχειν.

 

Luke uniquely had Jesus continue with this parable.  Jesus said that the host who had invited both of them might come (καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ σὲ καὶ αὐτὸν καλέσας), and say (ἐρεῖ σοι) that he would have to give this other person your place (Δὸς τούτῳ τόπον).  Then with disgrace or shame (μετὰ αἰσχύνης), you would start or begin (καὶ τότε ἄρξῃ) to take the lowest place (τὸν ἔσχατον τόπον κατέχειν).  In other words, you would be humiliated in front of everybody.  Have you ever been humiliated in front of other people?

They were silent (Lk 14:4-14:4)

“But they were silent.

Then Jesus

Took hold of him.

He healed him.

He sent him away.”

 

οἱ δὲ ἡσύχασαν. καὶ ἐπιλαβόμενος ἰάσατο αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπέλυσεν.

 

Luke uniquely stated that the lawyers and Pharisees were silent (οἱ δὲ ἡσύχασαν).  Then Jesus took hold of the man with dropsy (καὶ ἐπιλαβόμενος) and healed him (ἰάσατο αὐτὸν).  Then Jesus sent him away (καὶ ἀπέλυσεν).  Apparently, this was a perplexing problem for the Pharisees since helping people on the Sabbath was not unlawful as indicated in chapter 13:14-16 with the crippled woman.  Besides, it would be hard to tell if the fluid retention in the body of this person with dropsy had stopped.  Are you perplexed about anything?