“A man was there
He was a chief tax collector.
He was rich.”
Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ ὀνόματι καλούμενος Ζακχαῖος, καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἀρχιτελώνης, καὶ αὐτὸς πλούσιος
Only Luke uniquely talked about this man in Jericho (Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ), named Zacchaeus (ὀνόματι καλούμενος Ζακχαῖος), who was a rich (καὶ αὐτὸς πλούσιος) chief tax collector or head of a customs house (καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἀρχιτελώνης). Luke was the only biblical writer to use this term ἀρχιτελώνης, that means a chief tax collector, head of a custom-house, chief tax-gatherer, or publican. Zacchaeus was an important man in Jericho because of his wealth and his position in charge of tax collecting there. His very name, Zacchaeus, meant righteous or upright in Hebrew. Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus. What do you think about people who work for the IRS and collect taxes?
“Then the house manager
Said to himself.
‘What shall I do?
Is taking away
Of house manager
I am not strong enough
I am ashamed
εἶπεν δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὁ οἰκονόμος Τί ποιήσω, ὅτι ὁ κύριός μου ἀφαιρεῖται τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ; σκάπτειν οὐκ ἰσχύω, ἐπαιτεῖν αἰσχύνομαι.
This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus said that this house manager said to himself (εἶπεν δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὁ οἰκονόμος). What should he do (Τί ποιήσω)? His master or lord was taking away his position as house manager from him (ὅτι ὁ κύριός μου ἀφαιρεῖται τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ). He was not strong enough to dig (σκάπτειν οὐκ ἰσχύω), but he was too ashamed to beg also (ἐπαιτεῖν αἰσχύνομαι). What should he do with his unemployment? What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed?
“These Jewish elders
Came to Jesus.
They appealed to him
‘He is worthy
Of having you
Do this for him,’”
οἱ δὲ παραγενόμενοι πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν σπουδαίως, λέγοντες ὅτι ἄξιός ἐστιν ᾧ παρέξῃ τοῦτο·
Luke uniquely said that these Jewish elders came to Jesus (οἱ δὲ παραγενόμενοι πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν). They appealed or begged Jesus earnestly (παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν σπουδαίως). They said (λέγοντες) that this centurion was worthy of having Jesus grant this for him (λέγοντες ὅτι ἄξιός ἐστιν ᾧ παρέξῃ τοῦτο). Luke was the only one who had these elders recommend this Roman non-Jewish centurion for his consideration. Have you ever recommended someone as being worthy of a position?
“Then the king promoted
In the province
These 3 men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, already had some position in the province of Babylon. The king promoted them to a higher status, whatever that was.
“It is the moon
That marks the changing seasons.
The moon governs the times.
It is their everlasting sign.
From the moon
Comes the sign
For festal days.
It is a light that wanes
When it completes its course.
The new moon,
As its name suggests,
The month is named
After the moon.
How marvelous it is
In this change!
It is a beacon
For the hosts on high!
In the vault of the heavens!”
Sirach points out how important the moon was for the Israelites. First, the moon marked the changing of seasons. Then the festival days were based on the moon. Both Passover and the feast of the Tents were based on a full moon. In fact, calculating the observance of Christian Easter each year is based on the full moon of spring. We even still talk about a harvest moon and a romantic moon. The moon appears to become full and wane because of its position between the sun and the earth. Thus it looks like the new moon renews itself. The Israelite Hebrews had the same word for moon and month, since they used a lunar calendar to keep track of their days. Yet even today, we appreciate the value of a bright glorious moon in the heavenly sky at night.
“Do not go to law against a judge!
The decision will favor him
Because of his standing.
Do not go traveling with the reckless!
They will be burdensome to you.
They will act as they please.
Through their folly
You will perish with them.
Do not pick a fight with the quick-tempered!
Do not journey with them through lonely country!
Bloodshed means nothing to them.
Where no help is at hand,
They will strike you down.”
Do not go to the law against a judge because the decision will favor him due to his position as a judge. Do not travel with reckless people because they will be a burden to you. They will do whatever they want. They will draw you into their folly and you will perish with them. Do not pick a fight with someone who has a quick temper. Do not go traveling with them either. Killing people means nothing to them. They are liable to kill you when there is no one to help you. Be careful with who you travel with.
“Then Israel came to Egypt.
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
Yahweh made his people very fruitful.
He made them stronger than their foes.
He turned their hearts to hate his people.
Thus they dealt cunningly with his servants.”
Once again, this is a condensed version of the story in Genesis, chapters 46-47. Israel or Jacob came to Ham, because Ham supposedly settled in Egypt, at the request of Joseph, who had an important position in the Egyptian government. Then the sons of Jacob or the Israelites, as they came to be called, were very fruitful in Egypt. They grew stronger but the hearts of the Egyptians turned to hate them. They began to treat them cunningly. They became a treath to the immigrant Israelites since the Egyptians considered them as outsiders.