The rich man (Lk 16:19-16:19)

There was a rich man,

Who was dressed

In purple

And fine linen.

He feasted sumptuously

Every day.”

 

Ἄνθρωπος δέ τις ἦν πλούσιος, καὶ ἐνεδιδύσκετο πορφύραν καὶ βύσσον εὐφραινόμενος καθ’ ἡμέραν λαμπρῶς.

 

This parable story about the poor man Lazarus and an unnamed rich man is only found in Luke, not in the other gospels.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that there was a rich man or a man with a lot of wealth (Ἄνθρωπος δέ τις ἦν πλούσιος), who was dressed in purple (καὶ ἐνεδιδύσκετο πορφύραν) and fine linen (καὶ βύσσον).  The use of the Greek word βύσσον is unique to Luke among all the biblical writers that means byssus, a form of Egyptian flax or fine linen, very costly, and delicate.  This rich man feasted sumptuously every day (εὐφραινόμενος καθ’ ἡμέραν λαμπρῶς).  Once again, Luke has a unique use of the word λαμπρῶς that means splendidly, magnificently, or sumptuously.  This unidentified rich man had wonderful clothes because purple meant that it had to be dyed and usually represented royal standing, and his linen clothes were not an ordinary line.  Finally, he had a lot of wonderful food to eat.  Clearly, he was a well-off rich wealthy person, but he does not have a name.  Do you personally know a rich person?

Egyptian linen (Ezek 27:7-27:7)

“Your sail was

Of fine embroidered linen

From Egypt,

Serving

As your ensign.

Your awning was

Blue

With purple

From the coasts

Of Elishah.”

The ship builders at Tyre used embroidered Egyptian linen as their sails and their signals. The purple and blue awnings were from Elishah or Cyprus. The people of Tyre were international traders, famous for their purple dye.

The useless false wooden gods (Bar 6:70-6:73)

“Like a scarecrow

In a cucumber bed,

That guards nothing,

So are their gods of wood,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver.

In the same way,

Their gods of wood,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver,

Are

Like a thorn bush

In a garden,

On which every bird perches.

They are

Like a corpse

Thrown out in the darkness.

From the purple

Or the linen

That rot upon them,

You will know

That they are not gods.

They will finally

Be consumed themselves.

They will be a reproach

In the land.

Better,

Therefore

Is someone upright.

Such a person

Will be far above reproach.”

This letter of Jeremiah found as the last chapter in this book of Baruch ends with a comparison of these false wooden gods covered with gold and silver. The author compared them to a scarecrow in a cucumber bed that guarded nothing. They were compared to a thorn bush in a garden where birds sat on it. They were compared to a dead corpse in the dark. All of these useless items were like these useless idol gods. Even with purple or linen on them, they would still rot. They would be finally consumed and become a reproach to all. It was much better to be an upright person beyond reproach than any of these gods. So ends the letter of Jeremiah in the Book of Baruch.

These foolish man made idols (Jer 10:8-10:9)

“They are stupid.

They are foolish.

The instruction given by idols

Is no better than wood.

Beaten silver is brought

From Tarshish.

Gold is brought

From Uphaz.

They are the work

Of the artisans.

They are the work

Of the hands of the goldsmiths.

Their clothing is blue.

Their clothing is purple.

They are all the product

Of skilled men.”

Jeremiah remarks that the false idol gods are stupid and foolish. Any instruction from them is like instruction from a piece of wood. Their silver is from Tarshish, the big ship building place somewhere on the Mediterranean Sea. Usually the gold is from Ophir, but here it is from an unknown place only mentioned here called Uphaz, that may be another name for Ophir. They even have blue and purple clothing. Obviously these false idols are the work products of skilled humans, both artisans and goldsmiths.

The unique ornamented vestments of Aaron (Sir 45:10-45:13)

“The sacred vestments were

Gold,

Violet,

And purple.

They were the work of an embroiderer.

Aaron had the oracle of judgment,

The Urim and the Thummim.

They had twisted crimson,

The work of a craftsman.

There were precious stones

Engraved like signet seals.

There was a setting of gold,

The work of a jeweler.

This was a commemoration

In engraved letters,

Of each of the tribes of Israel.

He had a gold crown upon his turban.

This was inscribed

Like a signet seal with

‘Holiness.’

This was a distinction to be prized.

This was the work of an expert.

This was the delight for the eyes,

As this was richly adorned.

Before him,

Such beautiful things did not exist.

No outsider ever put them on.

Only his sons put this on.

Only his descendants perpetually put this on.”

The colorful vestments of Aaron were made of embroidered gold, violet, and purple. The artisans had made these crimson yarns. The Urim and Thummim were sacred oracles, in the pouch of the breastplate of judgment, according to Exodus, chapter 28. Aaron would carry the names of the Israelites and the judgment of the Israelites, when he went into the holy place. This unmentioned breastplate had precious stones engraved seals of the 12 tribes in settings of gold. He had a gold crown on his head that was on the top of his turban with gold flower designs. On the top of it was engraved “holiness” or as in Exodus, “Holy to Yahweh.” These highly artistic works were a delight to the eye since nothing like it existed anywhere before. Nobody, but Aaron and his sons could wear these vestments. Eventually, these became the sacred vestments of the Temple high priest.

Another description of the female lover (Song 7:1-7:5)

Male lover

“How graceful are your feet in sandals.

O queenly maiden!

Your rounded thighs are like jewels.

They are the work of a master hand.

Your navel is a rounded bowl

That never lacks mixed wine.

Your belly is a heap of wheat,

Encircled with lilies.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,

Twins of a gazelle.

Your neck is like an ivory tower.

Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,

By the gate of Bath-rabbim.

Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,

Overlooking Damascus.

Your head crowns you like Carmel.

Your flowing locks are like purple.

A king is held captive in the tresses.”

This description of the female lover is not exactly the same as in chapters 4 and 6. Here she has graceful feet in her sandals with rounded thighs like jewels. Her navel was like a round bowl with mixed wines. Her belly was like a heap of wheat with lilies. Her two breasts were like fawns or gazelles. He seemed to know a lot about her body. Her neck was like an ivory tower. Her eyes were like the pools in Heshbon that was on the east side of the Jordan River. Heshbon had been the chief city of King Sidon of the Amorites as found in Numbers, chapter 21. These pools must have been famous as it became Israelite territory. This town also became known as Bath-rabbim. Her nose was like a high tower of Lebanon overlooking Damascus. I am not sure how this is a compliment. Her head was like Mount Carmel. Her locks were purple here and not like a flock of goats as earlier described. Nevertheless, the king was held captive by them anyway.

King Solomon (Song 3:9-3:11)

“King Solomon made himself a palanquin

From the wood of Lebanon.

He made its posts of silver.

Its back was gold.

Its seat was purple.

Its interior was inlaid with love.

Daughters of Jerusalem!

Come out!

Daughters of Zion!

Look at King Solomon!

See the crown

With which his mother crowned him

On the day of his wedding,

On the day of the gladness of his heart.”

Suddenly the attention is on King Solomon himself. Is he the male lover? This palanquin is a seat carried on poles, like a moving throne. Obviously this was a very ornate chair made of fine Lebanon cedar wood, silver, gold, and purple, put together with love. The invitation was for the daughters of Jerusalem and Zion to come out and look at King Solomon on this chair wearing his royal crown that had been given to him by his mother at his joyous wedding day.