Pluck out your eye (Mk 9:47-9:47)

“If your eye

Causes you

To stumble,

Tear it out!

It is better

For you

To enter

The kingdom of God

With one eye

Than to have

Two eyes

To be thrown into hell.”

 

καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε, ἔκβαλε αὐτόν· καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν

 

This saying about it being better to be blind in one eye can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:9, almost word for word.  This warning was almost the same as the warning about the stumbling hand and foot.  Jesus then spoke about the problem of wandering eyes.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your eye causes you to stumble or sin (καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε), cast it out, gouge it out, or pluck it out (ἔκβαλε αὐτόν).  It would be better for you to enter the kingdom of God (εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ) blind in one eye or one eyed (καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον) than to have two eyes (ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς) but thrown into Gehenna or hell (ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν).  The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom.  That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off with one eye than being in these hell fires with two eyes.  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block or snare was, get rid of it, even if it is your eye.  This message was clear.  One eyed, one foot, or one hand was better than eternal fire.

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Eating on the Sabbath (Mt 12:1-12:1)

“At that time,

Jesus went through

The grain fields,

On the sabbath.

His disciples

Were hungry.

They began to pluck

Heads of grain

To eat them.”

 

Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς σάββασιν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων· οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπείνασαν καὶ ἤρξαντο τίλλειν στάχυας καὶ ἐσθίειν.

 

Matthew has Jesus with his disciples on the Sabbath day walking in a grain field.  This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:23, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  It is also the same as Luke, chapter 6:1.  Once again there is a transition statement of Matthew, “At that time” (Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ).  Jesus was traveling through the grain fields on the Sabbath (ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς σάββασιν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων).  This is the only use of the word “σπορίμων” in all the biblical literature.  All three synoptics use this word that meant a sown field or a grain field.  His disciples were hungry (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπείνασαν).  They began to pluck the heads of the grain in the field (καὶ ἤρξαντο τίλλειν στάχυας).  Once again, this is a unique word “τίλλειν.” “plucking” that only appears in the New Testament literature in this story of the three synoptics.  They then ate these grain heads (καὶ ἐσθίειν).  This sets up the problem of plucking grain on the Sabbath.

King Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt (Jer 43:11-43:13)

“‘King Nebuchadnezzar

Shall come.

He shall ravage

The land of Egypt.

Giving those who are doomed

For pestilence,

To pestilence.

Giving those who are destined

For captivity.

To captivity.

Giving those who are doomed

For the sword

To the sword.

He shall kindle a fire

In the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them.

He shall carry them away captive.

He shall pick clean

The land of Egypt,

As a shepherd picks

His cloaks clean of vermin.

He shall depart

From there safely.

He shall break

The obelisks of Heliopolis

That is in the land of Egypt.

He shall break the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them with fire.’”

Jeremiah described what was going to happen when King Nebuchadnezzar would come to Egypt, which he did around 568 BCE. The Babylonian king was going to ravage the land of Egypt. Those who were destined for pestilence got pestilence. Those destined for the sword, got the sword. Those destined for famine, got a famine. This was real simple, but who decided who was destined for what? King Nebuchadnezzar was going to burn down the Egyptian temples and make the Judeans captives. He was going to pick the land clean in the same way that shepherds pluck bugs off their cloaks or coats. He would come and go safely. However, he would also break the ornate pillars or obelisks in the town of Heliopolis, the city of the sun worshipers, which was about 25 miles east of Memphis, 6 mile northeast of Cairo. He would also burn down the Egyptian temples and their gods, as well as tear down other pillars throughout the land of Egypt.

Remain in this land (Jer 42:9-42:10)

“Jeremiah said to them.

‘Thus says Yahweh,

The God of Israel,

To whom you sent me

To present your plea

Before him.

‘If you will remain in this land,

Then I will build you up.

I will not pull you down.

I will plant you.

I will not pluck you up.

I am sorry for the disaster

That I have brought upon you.’”

Jeremiah then reported back to the people that Yahweh, the God of Israel, had spoken to him after 10 days. In a surprising response from Yahweh, he says that he is sorry for the disaster that he brought upon them. It is odd to hear God say that he was sorry. Most times, the opposite is true. Humans are sorry. Yahweh said that if they remained in this land, he would build them up and not pull them down. He would plant them and not pluck them up. Yahweh seems to show some regret for the Babylonian attack and captivity.

Yahweh gave us the holy land (Ps 80:8-80:13)

“You brought a vine out of Egypt.

You drove out the nations.

You planted it.

You cleared the ground for it.

It took deep root.

It filled the land.

The mountains were covered with its shade.

The mighty cedars were covered with its branches.

It sent out its branches to the sea.

It sent out its shoots to the River.

Why then have you broken down its walls?

Thus all who pass along the way pluck its fruit.

The boar from the forest ravages it.

All that move in the field feed on it.”

This is a great parable about the vine and Israel that was so familiar to all. The vine was taken from Egypt. Then the ground was prepared for it and planted. Thus nations were cleared out to let the vine grow as it took deep root. This vine spread all over the land as it covered the mountains and the trees. Its branches went from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. However, then its walls were broken down. Now anyone can come along and pluck its fruit. All the wild animals and any animals come to feed on it. Israel was being ravaged by all sets of animals and people.