Beware children of Abraham! (Lk 3:8-3:9)

“Bear fruits

Worthy of repentance!

Do not begin

To say to yourselves!

‘We have Abraham

As our ancestor!’

I tell you!

‘God is able

From these stones

To raise up children

To Abraham.

Even now,

The ax is lying

At the root of the trees.

Every tree

That does not bear

Good fruit

Is cut down

And thrown

Into the fire.’”

 

ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας· καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ.

ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.

 

Here is the first of the sayings from the so-called Q source.  Both Matthew, chapter 3:9-10, and Luke here have the exact same wording in their presentations of John’s preaching to the people.  Instead of just the Pharisees and Sadducees, Luke has John address this to all the people coming to be baptized.  This saying emphasized deeds, rather than relying on ancestry.  They were to produce fruit that was worthy of repentance (ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας).  They had to perform good deeds.  They should not presume that because they have had Abraham as their father, as the privileged chosen ones (καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ), that all would go well for them.  Then John pointedly said to them (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν) that God had the power (ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς) to change stones and rocks into the children of Abraham (ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ), a Hebrew play on words that was translated into Greek.  The axe was already lying at the foot of the trees, ready to go to work (ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται).  Every tree that was not bearing or producing good fruit would be cut down (πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται).  Then they would be thrown into the fire (καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται).

The brother’s wife (Mk 12:19-12:19)

“‘Teacher!

Moses wrote

For us

That if a man’s brother

Dies,

Leaving a wife,

But no child,

The man shall

Marry the widow

And raise up children

For his brother.’”

 

Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον, ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.  

 

Matthew, chapter 22:24, and Luke, chapter 20:28, are almost word for word as here in MarkMark said that these Sadducees addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).”  These Sadducees quoted a Mosaic text that Moses had written for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν), from Deuteronomy, chapter 25:5-10.  If a man’s brother should die (ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ) leaving behind a wife (καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα) without any children (καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον), his living brother should take his dead brother’s widow as his wife (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα).  He would then raise up the descendant children or seeds for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  This levirate law goes back as far as Tamar in Genesis, chapter 38:1-30, with the story of Judah’s 3 sons and Tamar, the original wife of Er.  The brother of the deceased was supposed to marry his brother’s widow if he had no sons.  The widow was not to marry outside her family.  It also assumes that the brother lived close by or in the same house as his brother.  There was no indication of whether the brother was married or not, but this seems to assume a younger brother.  This was an attempt to prolong the heritage and name of a person, which was common in ancient times.  The punishment for the brother’s refusal was an insult rather than any physical punishment.

The law about marrying the brother of the dead man (Mt 22:24-22:24)

“The Sadducees said.

‘Teacher!

Moses said.

‘If a man dies

Childless,

His brother

Shall marry

The widow.

He will raise up

Children

For his brother.’”

 

λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς εἶπεν Ἐάν τις ἀποθάνῃ μὴ ἔχων τέκνα, ἐπιγαμβρεύσει ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναστήσει σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ

 

Mark, chapter 12:19, and Luke, chapter 20:28, are almost word for word as here in Matthew.  These Sadducees addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher” or “Rabbi (λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε).”  They quoted a Mosaic text, as Moses says (Μωϋσῆς εἶπεν), from Deuteronomy, chapter 25:5-10.  If a man died without any children (Ἐάν τις ἀποθάνῃ μὴ ἔχων τέκνα), his brother should marry the widow (ἐπιγαμβρεύσει ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ).  He would then raise up the descendants for his brother (καὶ ἀναστήσει σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  This levirate law goes back as far as Tamar in Genesis, chapter 38:1-30, with the story of Judah’s 3 sons and Tamar, the original wife of Er.  The brother of the deceased was supposed to marry his brother’s widow if he had no sons.  The widow was not to marry outside her family.  It also assumes that the brother lived close by or in the same house as his brother.  There was no indication of whether the brother was married or not, but this seems to assume a younger brother.  This was an attempt to prolong the heritage and name of a person, which was common in ancient times.  The punishment for the brother’s refusal was an insult rather than any physical punishment.

The defeat of the Assyrians (Mic 5:5-5:6)

“If the Assyrians come

Into our land,

If they tread

Upon our soil,

We will raise

Against them

Seven shepherds

With eight installed

As rulers.

They shall rule

The land of Assyria

With the sword.

They shall rule

The land of Nimrod

With the drawn sword.

They shall deliver us

From the Assyrians,

If they come into our land,

If they tread within our border.”

If and when the Assyrians came into their land of Israel, the Israelites, would raise up against them.  If these Assyrians treaded on their Israelite soil, they would have 7 shepherds, the full amount necessary, or 8 rulers, more than the perfect 7, to take care of the situation.  They would, in fact, rule Assyria with a drawn sword.  They would take over the land of Nimrod, another name for Assyria.  They would be delivered from the Assyrians, if they tried to come into their land and walk across their border.  This sounded like a strong warning, but were the Assyrians listening?

Restoration of the Davidic rule (Am 9:11-9:12)

“On that day,

I will raise up

The booth of David

That is fallen.

I will repair

Its breaches.

I will raise up

Its ruins.

I will rebuild it

As in the days of old.

Thus,

They may possess

The remnant of Edom.

They may possess

All the nations

Who are called

By my name.’

Says Yahweh

Who does this.”

This oracle of Yahweh might be a later addition.  However, it asked for the restoration of the Davidic rule.  Yahweh wanted the fallen booth or tent of David to be restored, since it needed to be repaired.  Yahweh was going to raise up the ruins of that dynasty, so that it would be like the good old days.  Then Israel would possess whatever was left over of Edom.  Just like at the time of David, the other neighbors of Israel would come under the rule of Israel.  Thus, there was an allusion to the other countries who were called by the name of Yahweh.  Yahweh had said this, now he was going to do it.