Jesus at a lonely place (Lk 4:42-4:42)

“At daybreak,

Jesus departed.

He went into

A deserted place.

The crowds

Were looking

For him.

When they reached him,

They wanted to prevent him

From leaving them.”

 

Γενομένης δὲ ἡμέρας ἐξελθὼν ἐπορεύθη εἰς ἔρημον τόπον· καὶ οἱ ὄχλοι ἐπεζήτουν αὐτόν, καὶ ἦλθον ἕως αὐτοῦ, καὶ κατεῖχον αὐτὸν τοῦ μὴ πορεύεσθαι ἀπ’ αὐτῶν.

 

Luke said that when daybreak came (Γενομένης δὲ ἡμέρας), Jesus departed or left (ἐξελθὼν) Capernaum.  He went into a deserted place (ἐπορεύθη εἰς ἔρημον τόπον).  The crowds were looking or searching for him (καὶ οἱ ὄχλοι ἐπεζήτουν αὐτόν).  When they reached him (καὶ ἦλθον ἕως αὐτοῦ), they wanted to prevent him or detain him from leaving them (καὶ κατεῖχον αὐτὸν τοῦ μὴ πορεύεσθαι ἀπ’ αὐτῶν).  There is something similar in Mark, chapter 1:35-36.  Jesus went out to a deserted place at daybreak, following the healings of the evening before. as here, but Jesus went out to pray, which was not mentioned here.  Jesus left the other disciples behind early in the morning before daybreak.  Luke had the crowds of people come to him, but there was no mention of Simon or the other disciples as in Mark.  However, Mark never mentioned anything about preventing Jesus from leaving.  Clearly, Jesus had a hard time being alone.

The time of birth arrived (Lk 2:6-2:6)

“While they were there,

The time came

For her

To deliver

Her child.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν,

 

Luke had a very simple statement, just like Matthew, chapter 2:1, about the birth of Jesus.  While they were there (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ) in Bethlehem, the time came for her to deliver her child (ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν).  Her pregnancy had reached its end.  After all that had preceded, the main event had arrived.  As any mother, Mary was excited about the birth of her child.  Joseph might also have been concerned.

Send two disciples from Bethpage (Mt 21:1-21:1)

“When they had come

Near Jerusalem,

They had reached Bethphage,

At the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus sent two disciples.”

 

Καὶ ὅτε ἤγγισαν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Βηθφαγὴ εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν, τότε Ἰησοῦς ἀπέστειλεν δύο μαθητὰς

 

Both Mark, chapter 11:1, and Luke, chapter 19:29, are almost word for word to what is here in Matthew.  Thus, when they got near to Jerusalem (Καὶ ὅτε ἤγγισαν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα), Jesus then sent out two of his disciples (τότε Ἰησοῦς ἀπέστειλεν δύο μαθητὰς).  They were staying at Bethphage (καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Βηθφαγὴ), a village on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives (εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν), not far from Jerusalem.

Do they pay the temple tax? (Mt 17:24-17:25)

“When they reached

Capernaum,

The collectors

Of the temple tax

Came to Peter.

They said.

‘Does your teacher

Not pay the tax?’

Peter said.

‘Yes!

He does!’”

 

Ἐλθόντων δὲ αὐτῶν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ προσῆλθον οἱ τὰ δίδραχμα λαμβάνοντες τῷ Πέτρῳ καὶ εἶπαν Ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν οὐ τελεῖ δίδραχμα;

λέγει Ναί.

 

This section about the temple tax is unique to Matthew.  Jesus and his disciples had come back to Capernaum (Ἐλθόντων δὲ αὐτῶν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ).  The collectors of the temple tax came to Peter (προσῆλθον οἱ τὰ δίδραχμα λαμβάνοντες τῷ Πέτρῳ).  Once again, this is an indication of Peter’s leadership.  They asked him if his teacher had paid the temple tax (καὶ εἶπαν Ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν οὐ τελεῖ δίδραχμα).  Peter responded that Jesus did pay the tax with a simple yes answer (λέγει Ναί).  What is this temple tax?  It actually was a half-shekel or “δίδραχμα – didrachma.”  All the Israelite males over the age of 20 had to pay this half-shekel tax to the Jerusalem temple, once a year, sometime in March around Passover time.  In Capernaum, there was no temple, just a synagogue.  However, this might have been a group that was collecting for the temple tax in Jerusalem for those who were not going to go to Jerusalem for the Passover.  The value of a shekel would have been around $5.00 USA, so that each male had to pay about $2.50, not a big deal for a once a year tax.  This incident probably made more sense in Jerusalem itself.

The disciples forget bread (Mt 16:5-16:5)

“When the disciples

Reached the other side,

They had forgotten

To bring any bread.”

 

Καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ εἰς τὸ πέραν ἐπελάθοντο ἄρτους λαβεῖν.

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 8:14.  In an ironic twist of fate, the disciples of Jesus forget to bring bread with them on this trip across the Sea of Galilee.  There is no indication of the place where they were.  Mark said that they only had one loaf of bread.  When the disciples got to the other side of the sea (Καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ εἰς τὸ πέραν), they realized that they had forgotten to bring any bread with them (ἐπελάθοντο ἄρτους λαβεῖν).  Bread was a key food element of nourishment.  Remember the bread of life.

Wailing for the countryside of Judah (Mic 1:8-1:9)

“I will lament!

I will wail!

I will go barefoot!

I will go naked!

I will make lamentations

Like the jackals!

I will mourn

Like the ostriches!

Her wound is incurable.

It has come to Judah.

It has reached

To the gate

Of my people,

To Jerusalem.”

Next Micah lamented and wailed about the countryside around Jerusalem.  Micah was going to go barefooted and naked in his lamentation, just like the jackals or the ostriches that put their head in the sand.  This was an incurable wound to Judah that had reached the gates of Jerusalem, the holy people.

The king was the great tree (Dan 4:20-4:22)

“‘The tree

That you saw,

That grew great,

That became strong,

That its top reached

To heaven,

That was visible

To the end

Of the whole earth,

It is you!

O king!

Its leaves were beautiful.

It fruit was abundant.

It provided food for all.

Animals of the field

Lived under it.

Birds of the air

Had nests

In its branches.

It is you!

O king!

You have grown great!

You have become strong!

Your greatness has increased!

Your greatness reaches

To heaven.

Your sovereignty reaches

To the ends of the earth.’”

Belteshazzar or Daniel told the king that he was the tree that he saw in his dream, since a strong man was often equated with a big sturdy tree. After all, the king, like the tree in the dream, had grown great and strong. His greatness had reached to heaven and was visible to the ends of the whole earth, because his kingdom was so great. Daniel described the tree with its abundant beautiful leaves and fruit that provided food for everyone. He used the same remarks as in the dream about the tree being a shady place for field animals and birds to build nests on its branches.

The king’s dream about the big beautiful tree (Dan 4:10-4:12)

“Upon my bed,

This what I saw.

There was a tree

At the center

Of the earth.

Its height was great.

The tree grew.

It became strong.

Its top reached

To heaven.

It was visible

To the ends

Of the whole earth.

Its foliage was beautiful.

Its fruit was abundant.

It provided food

For all.

The animals of the field

Found shade under it.

The birds of the air

Nested in its branches.

All living beings

Were fed from it.”

The king was laying in his bed when he saw a great big strong tree in the center of the earth. It was so tall that it reached to heaven and could be seen from the ends of the earth with beautiful leaves and lots of fruit. This tree provided food for everyone. Animals found shade under it, while birds built nests in its branches. This was quite a wonderful tree.

The mythical tall cedar in Lebanon (Ezek 31:3-31:5)

“Consider a cedar

Of Lebanon!

It has fair branches.

It has forest shade.

It has great height.

Its top is

Among the clouds.

The waters nourished it.

The deep made it

Grow tall.

Its rivers flow

Around the place

It was planted,

Sending forth

Its streams

To all the trees

of the forest.

So it towered high

Above all the trees

Of the forest.

Its boughs grew large.

Its branches were long

From abundant water

In its shoots.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, compared Egypt to a tall cedar tree in Lebanon. This majestic tree had fair branches in a forest shade. It was extremely tall so that its top reached into the clouds. Ezekiel seems to be referring to an ancient Babylonian myth about the deep abyss or a dragon from the watery chaos that made trees grow tall. Thus they would enter the heaven of the gods in the clouds. The nourishing water from this deep abyss made this cedar tree grow tall. Streams from this water abyss flowed all around the place where this tree was planted. Even the other trees in the forest were able to grow because of this water. Nevertheless, this high cedar tree towered over all the other trees in the forest, because it had large long branches, due to the abundance of water in its shoots.

The fall of Babylon (Jer 51:7-51:10)

“Babylon was a

Golden cup

In Yahweh’s hand.

It made all the earth

Drunk.

The nations drank

Of her wine.

So that the nations

Went mad.

Suddenly Babylon

Has fallen.

It is shattered.

Wail for her!

Take balm

For her wound!

Perhaps she may be healed.

We tried

To heal Babylon.

But she could not be healed.

Forsake her!

Let each of us go

To our own country!

Her judgment has reached

Up to heaven.

Her judgment

Has been lifted up

Even to the skies.

Yahweh has brought forth

Our vindication.

Come!

Let us declare in Zion

The work of Yahweh

Our God.”

Babylon was like a golden cup of God’s wrath. The various nations drank this wrath from this golden cup. Thus they got drunk and went mad. Now suddenly Babylon has fallen and fell into many pieces. You can cry for her. You can try to heal her wounds, in hopes that she would be healed. Everyone tried to heal Babylon, but nothing worked. Then Yahweh said that you could cry and wail for her. Nevertheless, everyone should go to their own country. The judgment against Babylon has reached to the high heavens. Yahweh has enacted his vengeance and vindication. They were now to return to Zion, Jerusalem, to declare the works of Yahweh, their God. Bye-bye Babylon!