Surrounded on every side (Lk 19:43-19:43)

“Indeed,

The days

Will come upon you,

When your enemies

Will set up ramparts

Around you.

They will hem you in

On every side.”

 

ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus remarked that bad days were coming to Jerusalem (ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ).  Jesus said that it would come to them when their enemies would put up a barricade against them (καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι).  They would surround them (καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε) so that they would be hemmed in on every side (καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν).  This is the only Greek biblical use of the word περικυκλώσουσίν that means to hem them in on every side, encircle, surround, or encompass.  Jesus was using the words and images of the ancient Israelite prophets against Jerusalem.  Isaiah, chapter 29:1-3, called Jerusalem Ariel, a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar.  Isaiah, warned Jerusalem about what was going to happen to it.  Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it.  They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust.  Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile.  Jeremiah, chapter 6:6-8, warned Jerusalem that its enemies were going to cut down trees in order to make a ramp siege against Jerusalem, because this city needed to be punished.  There was nothing but oppression and wickedness within her.  Jerusalem was a place of violence and destruction with sickness and wounded people all around.  Yahweh was going to turn away in disgust against Jerusalem. Thus, it would become a desolate uninhabited land, if it did not heed his warning.  Ezekiel, chapter 4:1-3, also condemned Jerusalem with Ezekiel’s symbolic action.  A voice told Ezekiel to be an expert model Lego builder of the siege of Jerusalem.  Ezekiel, the son of man, was to take a brick and portray the city of Jerusalem.  He was to put the siege works with a siege wall against this city.  He was to put a ramp and camps against this city with battering rams all around it.  Then he was to take an iron plate and make an iron wall between himself and the city, looking at it.  Thus, there was a state of siege, a sign for the house of Israel.  Ezekiel was part of the exiles from 598 BCE before the taking of Jerusalem and the second captivity in 587 BCE.  Of course, here this was allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Roman soldiers putting down a revolution in Judea.  Luke would have known about this at the time of his writing.  Have you ever seen a city destroyed?

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The Word of God

In what sense is the Bible “the word of God”?  Certainly, the Bible was written by humans.  However, there are a number of times when the human authors were citing the words of God himself.  Sometimes these are called oracles or sayings of God.  This series of books portray humans interacting with God.  God wants them to do something and then the humans react.  The Bible contains words about God and words of God himself spoken to humans.  Thus, we can say that the Bible is the inspired words of God in human terms.

The legend of King David (Sir 47:2-47:5)

“As the fat is set apart

From the offering of well-being,

So David was set apart

From the Israelites.

He played with lions

As though they were young goats.

He played with bears

As though they were lambs of the flock.

In his youth

Did he not kill a giant?

Did he take away the people’s disgrace?

Did he not whirl the stone in the sling?

Did he not strike down

The boasting Goliath?

He called on the Lord,

The Most High.

He gave him strength

To his right hand.

He struck down a mighty warrior.

He exalted the power of his people.”

Sirach sets out to portray David as a super hero, not just a holy famous man. He was set apart from all Israelites, like the fat at a sacrificial offering. As a young boy, he played with lions and bears as if they were goats and lambs. Then he killed the giant Goliath with his sling shot as found in 1 Samuel, chapter 17. He did this because he had called on the name of the Lord, the Most High God. Thus he exalted the power of his people with all these exploits. This was super David. It is interesting to note that Sirach did not consider the first king of Israel, King Saul, as a famous holy man, only this second king of Israel, the super hero King David.

The stories about David (Ps 109:16-109:19)

“He did not remember to show kindness.

He pursued the poor and needy.

He pursued the brokenhearted to their death.

He loved to curse.

Let curses come on him!

He did not like blessing.

May it be far from him!

He clothed himself with cursing as his coat.

May it soak into his body like water!

May it soak into his bones like oil!

May it be like a garment that he wraps around himself!

May it be like a belt with that he wears everyday!”

This is one of the few descriptions of David that is not favorable. It was an attempt to portray David as some others saw him. Apparently David did not show kindness. He pursued the poor, the needy, and brokenhearted to their death. He loved to curse so that curses should come back on him. He did not like blessings as he clothed himself in cursing. Thus the wish was for him to soak his body like water and his bones like oil. He should wear these garments and belts every day. Somehow he was to wear something like a scarlet letter of disapproval so that all could see it.