The rich giving gifts (Lk 21:1-21:1)

“Jesus looked up.

He saw rich people

Putting their gifts

Into the treasury.”

 

Ἀναβλέψας δὲ εἶδεν τοὺς βάλλοντας εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον τὰ δῶρα αὐτῶν πλουσίους.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus looked up (Ἀναβλέψας δὲ).  He saw (εἶδεν τοὺς) rich people (πλουσίους) putting, casting, or dropping their gifts into the treasury (βάλλοντας εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον τὰ δῶρα αὐτῶν).  Only Mark, chapter 21:41, has something similar, but in a more expansive form, while Matthew did not mention this incident.  Mark said that Jesus sat down opposite the treasury (Καὶ καθίσας κατέναντι τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου), that was a room in the Temple.  This room probably had many large containers, probably twelve receptacles for the various Israelite tribes, to put gifts into.  He watched how the crowds of people put money into the treasury containers (ἐθεώρει πῶς ὁ ὄχλος βάλλει χαλκὸν εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον).  Many rich people put in large sums of money (καὶ πολλοὶ πλούσιοι ἔβαλλον πολλά).  There is nothing extraordinary about rich people giving lots of money to the Temple treasury.  This seemed normal enough.  Do you contribute to religious organizations?

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Bring me a coin (Mk 12:15-12:15)

“But knowing

Their hypocrisy,

Jesus said to them.

‘Why are you

Putting me

To the test?

Bring me

A denarius!

Let me see it!’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὴν ὑπόκρισιν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Τί με πειράζετε; φέρετέ μοι δηνάριον ἵνα ἴδω.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 22:18-19, and in Luke, chapter 20:23-24.  Mark said that Jesus was aware of their evil intentions or hypocrisy (ὁ δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὴν ὑπόκρισιν).  He asked them (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) why were they testing or tempting him (Τί με πειράζετε)?  This idea of testing or tricking Jesus was a common theme in the gospels.  Jesus wanted them to bring him the Roman coin, a denarius (φέρετέ μοι δηνάριον), worth a little more than a US dollar.  He wanted to see (ἵνα ἴδω) what coin was being used for paying the Roman poll tax.

Preparing to build the Temple (Hag 2:15-2:15)

“But now,

Consider what will come to pass

From this day on!

Before a stone was placed

Upon a stone

In the Yahweh’s temple!”

They were to prepare themselves to build the Temple of Yahweh.  They should think what they were about to do, before they starting putting the stones together.

The signal from Yahweh (Isa 49:22-49:23)

“Thus says Yahweh God.

‘I will soon lift up my hand

To the nations.

I will raise my signal

To the people.

They shall bring your sons

In their bosom.

Your daughters shall be carried

On their shoulders.

Kings shall be your foster fathers.

Queens shall be your nursing mothers.

With their faces to the ground,

They shall bow down to you.

They shall lick the dust of your feet.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.

Those who wait for me

Shall not be put to shame.’”

Second Isaiah has this oracle of Yahweh where he was going to lift up his hand and give a signal to the nations and the people of the world. Everyone will come with their sons and daughters. Kings would become foster parents, while queens would be nursing mothers. These kings and queens would bow down before them and lick the dust off their feet. Then they would know that it was Yahweh who was putting them to shame. However, those who had been waiting for Yahweh will not be put to shame.

Isaiah heals King Hezekiah (Isa 38:21-38:22)

“Now Isaiah had said.

‘Let them take a lump of figs.

Apply it to the boil.

Thus he may recover.’

King Hezekiah also had said.

‘What is the sign

That I shall go up

To the house of Yahweh?”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 20. However it seems to be in the wrong place. This was better off earlier in this chapter when they were talking about the sign of the sundial since this section ends with King Hezekiah asking for a sign about when he should go to the house of Yahweh. He wanted to know how he would know that he was healed. Isaiah has healed King Hezekiah by taking a lump of figs and putting it on the boil.

The wise ones (Sir 20:27-20:31)

“The wise person

Advances himself

By his words.

Whoever is sensible

Will please the great men.

Whoever cultivates the soil

Will heap up their harvest.

Whoever pleases the great men

Will atone for injustice.

Favors blind the eyes of the wise.

Gifts blind the eyes of the wise.

Like a muzzle on the mouth,

They stop reproofs.

What is the value

Of hidden wisdom?

What is the value

Of an unseen treasure?

What value is either of them?

Better are those

Who hide their folly

Than those

Who hide their wisdom.”

Sirach gives us some indications about the wise people. They advance themselves by their words. They are sensible and thus please great men. They know how to cultivate the soil to get a great harvest. They atone for injustice. However, there is a down side. They should not be blinded by gifts and favors. Thus they might end up putting a muzzle on so that they stop criticizing the people who are giving these presents and favors. There is no value to hidden wisdom or unseen treasure. The foolish should hide their foolishness rather than the wise hide their wisdom.

Prudence (Sir 8:1-8:3)

“Do not contend with the powerful.

Otherwise you may fall into their hands.

Do not quarrel with the rich.

Otherwise their resources may outweigh yours.

Gold has ruined many.

Gold has perverted the minds of kings.

Do not argue with the loud of mouth.

Do not heap wood on their fire.”

Sirach has some common sense prudent statements about life. Do not argue with powerful people or you might fall into their hands. Do not quarrel with the rich because they have more resources than you have. Don’t let your life be ruined by gold, as some kings have. Don’t argue with loud-mouthed people because you are only putting more wood on their fire.