You took care of me (Mt 25:35-25:36)

“I was hungry!

You gave me food!

I was thirsty!

You gave me something

To drink!

I was a stranger!

You welcomed me!

I was naked!

You gave me

Clothing!

I was sick!

You took care of me!

I was in prison!

You visited me!”

 

ἐπείνασα γὰρ καὶ ἐδώκατέ μοι φαγεῖν, ἐδίψησα καὶ ἐποτίσατέ με, ξένος ἤμην καὶ συνηγάγετέ με,

γυμνὸς καὶ περιεβάλετέ με, ἠσθένησα καὶ ἐπεσκέψασθέ με, ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην καὶ ἤλθατε πρός με.

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said to the sheep on the right side that they had taken care of him.  He said that when he was hungry, they gave him food to eat (ἐπείνασα γὰρ καὶ ἐδώκατέ μοι φαγεῖν).  When he was thirsty, they gave him something to drink (ἐδίψησα καὶ ἐποτίσατέ με).  When he was a stranger, they kindly took him in (ξένος ἤμην καὶ συνηγάγετέ με).  When he was naked, they gave him clothes to wear (γυμνὸς καὶ περιεβάλετέ με).  When he was sick, they visited and took care of him (ἠσθένησα καὶ ἐπεσκέψασθέ με).  When he was in prison, they came to visit him (ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην καὶ ἤλθατε πρός με).  All of this was in the first person singular.  This sounds like the beatitudes mentioned earlier in chapter 5:3-11, but here they are more specific and personal.

The unforgiving servant slave (Mt 18:28-18:30)

“But that same slave,

As he went out,

Came upon

One of his fellow slaves.

He owed him

A hundred denarii.

He seizing him.

He started choking him.

He said.

‘Pay what you owe.’

Then his fellow slave fell down.

He pleaded with him.

‘Have patience with me!

I will pay you.’

But he refused.

Then he went.

He threw him in prison

Until he would pay the debt.”

 

ἐξελθὼν δὲ ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος εὗρεν ἕνα τῶν συνδούλων αὐτοῦ, ὃς ὤφειλεν αὐτῷ ἑκατὸν δηνάρια, καὶ κρατήσας αὐτὸν ἔπνιγεν λέγων Ἀπόδος εἴ τι ὀφείλεις.

πεσὼν οὖν ὁ σύνδουλος αὐτοῦ παρεκάλει αὐτὸν λέγων Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί, καὶ ἀποδώσω σοι.

ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἤθελεν, ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν ἔβαλεν αὐτὸν εἰς φυλακὴν ἕως ἀποδῷ τὸ ὀφειλόμενον.

 

This parable about the unforgiving servant slave is unique to Matthew.  Just as this servant slave was leaving his master (ἐξελθὼν δὲ ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος) after having a $15,000,000 debt forgiven, he ran into a fellow slave (εὗρεν ἕνα τῶν συνδούλων αὐτοῦ).  This fellow slave owed him a hundred denarii (ὃς ὤφειλεν αὐτῷ ἑκατὸν δηνάρια), about $150.00.  He seized him or took hold of him (καὶ κρατήσας αὐτὸν).  He started to choke him by the throat (ἔπνιγεν) and told him to pay what he owed (λέγων Ἀπόδος εἴ τι ὀφείλεις).  Obviously, he was using strong arm tactics to intimidate his fellow slave.  This fellow slave responded by using the same routine and words as he had just done to the king.  Then his fellow slave fell down (πεσὼν οὖν ὁ σύνδουλος αὐτοῦ).  He pleaded with him (παρεκάλει αὐτὸν λέγων) to have patience with him (Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί) because he was going to pay it back to him (καὶ ἀποδώσω σοι).  However, the result was completely different.  Instead of forgiving his fellow slave, he refused to do that (ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἤθελεν).  He threatened him (ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν) and put him in jail or prison (ἔβαλεν αὐτὸν εἰς φυλακὴν) until he would pay off his debt (ἕως ἀποδῷ τὸ ὀφειλόμενον).

Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist (Mt 14:2-14:3)

“Herod said

To his servants.

‘This is John the Baptist.

He has been raised

From the dead.

This is why these powers

Are at work in him.’

Herod had seized John.

He had bound him.

He had put him in prison,

On account of Herodias,

His brother Philip’s wife.”

 

καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ.

Ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης κρατήσας τὸν Ἰωάνην ἔδησεν καὶ ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ·

 

This mention of Herod and John the Baptist can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 6:14 and 6:17, and Luke, chapter 9:7 and 3:19-20, and here.  As if this story was not complicated enough, Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee, had already seized John the Baptist.  John had been complaining that Herod Antipas had married the wife of his half-brother Herod Boethus or Philip, after he had divorced his first wife, who went back to her father and started a war with Herod Antipas.  His new wife was called Herodias.  Thus, Herod Antipas said to his children or servants (καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ) that he thought that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead (Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν).  How ironic since Jesus was to rise from the dead.  Herod thought the miraculous powers of John the Baptist were at work in Jesus (καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ).  Herod knew that he had seized, bound, and, put John in jail (Ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης κρατήσας τὸν Ἰωάνην ἔδησεν καὶ ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο).  In fact, he had him killed because of his new wife Herodias, who had been the wife of his brother Philip or Herod Boethus (διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ).

Debts (Mt 5:25-5:26)

“Come to terms quickly

With your accuser,

While you are

On the way

To court.

Otherwise,

Your accuser

May hand you over

To the judge.

The judge

May hand you over

To the guard.

You will be

Thrown into prison.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘You will never get out

Until you have paid

The last penny.’”

 

ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου ταχὺ ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ· μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ, καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ, καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ·

ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην.

 

Jesus, via Matthew, had some common-sense advice that seems to come from the common source Q, since Luke, chapter 12:58-59, has almost exactly the same saying.  If you had a court case, try to settle it quickly before you get to court with the person that you owed money to.  You should be agreeable to your accuser (ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου).  You should try to solve this case with your accuser on the way to court (ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ).  Otherwise, this accuser would turn you over to a judge (μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ), who would in turn send you to a guard (καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ), who would throw you into jail or a prison (καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ).  Then Matthew has this solemn statement of Jesus (ἀμὴν λέγω σοι), just like Luke.  You would never get out of jail (οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν) until you have paid off the last κοδράντην (ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην).  This κοδράντην was a 1/10 of a drachma, about .03 cents, generally translated as a penny.  Settle your debts before you go to court!

Security in the foreign temples (Bar 6:18-6:19)

“Just as the gates

Are shut

On every side

Against anyone

Who has offended a king,

As though under sentence

Of death,

So the priests make

Their temples secure

With doors,

With locks,

With bars,

So that they may not be

Plundered

By robbers.

They light more lamps

For them

Than they light for themselves,

Even though their gods

Can see none of them.”

In an interesting bit of irony, this author points out that the foreign temples have a lot of security, as if the temples were in prison. These temples are like someone who has offended a king. They have gates on all sides of them, as if they are awaiting a death sentence. Their temple priests have secured their temples with doors, locks, and bars because they are afraid that robbers will come into the temple and steal things from it. They have so much light in the temple for themselves, rather than for their gods who cannot see anything anyway, with or without light.

Jeremiah back in prison (Jer 38:27-38:28)

“All the officials did come

To Jeremiah.

They questioned him.

He answered them

In the very words

That the king had commanded.

So they stopped

Questioning him.

The conversation

Had not been overheard.

Jeremiah remained

In the court of the guard

Until the day

That Jerusalem was taken.”

Just as King Zedekiah had expected, these royal officials came to Jeremiah in his prison to question him. However, Jeremiah answered them as the king had requested him to do. He told them the conversation with the king was about what prison he should live in. With that, the officials stopped questioning him. They never asked him how he got out of the cistern well. Thus the conversation between the king and Jeremiah was safe, since no one had heard the conversation. Both sides of this discussion had agreed what to say about their secret chat. Nevertheless, Jeremiah remained in the royal prison until Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonians.

The listeners of Jeremiah (Jer 38:1-38:1)

“Now Shephatiah,

The son of Mattan,

Gedaliah,

The son of Pashhur,

Jucar,

The son of Shelemiah,

With Pashhur,

The son of Malchiah,

Heard the words

That Jeremiah was saying

To all the people.”

People went to hear what Jeremiah had to say even while he was in prison. Shephatiah, Gedaliah, Jucar, and Pashhur were royal officials among the visitors who were listening to the words of Jeremiah.   Shephatiah is only mentioned here.   Gedaliah may be the son of Pashhur, who beat up Jeremiah in chapter 20. But he was a priest and not a royal official. Jucar is probably the same Jehucal mentioned in the preceding chapter as a messenger from the king to Jeremiah. Pashhur was the same royal messenger mentioned in chapter 21. Apparently while in the prison at the royal palace, Jeremiah could receive visitors. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 45, not chapter 38 as here.

King Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to pray to Yahweh (Jer 37:3-37:4)

“King Zedekiah

Sent Jehucal,

The son of Shelemiah,

With the priest Zephaniah

The son of Maaseiah,

To the prophet Jeremiah.

Saying.

‘Please pray for us

To Yahweh

Our God.’

Now Jeremiah was still

Going in and out

Among the people.

He had not yet been

Put in prison.”

King Zedekiah sent envoys to Jeremiah to ask him to pray to Yahweh for them. He sent Jehucal, who in the next chapter will turn against Jeremiah, with the priest Zephaniah, to Jeremiah. Zephaniah seemed to be the high priest at the Temple, since he was involved with Pashhur in chapter 21, as well as in chapter 29, as the priest who read the letter from the first exiles. At this time, Jeremiah was still free to roam about his people, since this was before he was put in prison. This was a nice gesture on the part of the king.

The siege of Jerusalem (Jer 32:2-32:2)

“At that time,

The army of

The king of Babylon

Was besieging Jerusalem.

The prophet Jeremiah

Was confined

In the court of the guard

That was in the palace

Of the king of Judah.

King Zedekiah of Judah

Had confined him.”

The time frame is clearly the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army. However, Jeremiah was imprisoned in the palace jail by King Zedekiah of Judah. King Zedekiah had been installed as king by King Nebuchadnezzar in 598 BCE. However, he revolted against him and sought the aid of King Hophra or Pharaoh Apries (589-570 BCE) of Egypt. This led to the siege that lasted almost 2 years as the Egyptians tried to help King Zedekiah. Eventually, the Babylonians were successful. Meanwhile, King Zedekiah had Jeremiah confined to prison because, as always, Jeremiah was pro-Babylonian.

The priest Pashhur punishes Jeremiah (Jer 20:1-20:2)

“Now the priest Pashhur,

The son of Immer,

Who was the chief officer

In the house of Yahweh,

Heard Jeremiah

Prophesying these things.

Then Pashhur struck

The prophet Jeremiah.

He put him in the stocks

That were in the upper Benjamin Gate

Of the house of Yahweh.”

This priest Pashhur seems to be a Temple official of some kind. His father Immer was the chief officer of the Temple. Pashhur had heard Jeremiah prophesying about various things. Thus this Temple priest then struck Jeremiah, as he publically punished him. He then put him into the stocks by the upper Benjamin Gate in the prison near the Temple area.