The prayer of Elizabeth (Lk 1:25-1:25)

“Elizabeth said.

‘This is what

The Lord

Has done to me.

He looked on me.

He took away

The disgrace

That I have endured

Among my people.’”

 

λέγουσα

ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος ἐν ἡμέραις αἷς ἐπεῖδεν ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός μου ἐν ἀνθρώποις.

 

Luke has this prayer of Elizabeth.  She said that the Lord had done this to her (ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος).  Many believed that only God could help people get pregnant, since he controlled the opening and closing of the womb, as indicated in Genesis, chapter 16:2, about Sarah and being barren.  That was the reason that there were so many pagan fertility gods, rites, and rituals, since giving birth was considered to be some kind of magical or divine action.  Also, contemporary political gesturing around reproductive rights has its basis in religious beliefs.  Elizabeth said that in those days (ἐν ἡμέραις), the Lord had looked on her (αἷς ἐπεῖδεν), since he took away her disgrace or reproach (ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός) that she had endured among her people or other men (ἐν ἀνθρώποις).  Being barren or sterile was considered a punishment from God.  The prime example of a happiness at birth would have been in Genesis, chapter 29:31-30:23, where Rachel finally had a son, Joseph.  Elizabeth understood her pregnancy as a personal vindication or reward for her righteousness.  She did not seem to understand the wider consequences of her pregnancy.

 

Against Chorazin and Bethsaida (Mt 11:21-11:22)

“Woe to you!

Chorazin!

Woe to you!

Bethsaida!

If the deeds of power

Done in you

Had been done

In Tyre

And in Sidon,

They would have repented

Long ago,

In sackcloth

And ashes.

But I tell you!

On the day of judgment,

It will be more tolerable

For Tyre

And Sidon

Than for you.”

 

Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν· οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδάν· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἐγένοντο αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν, πάλαι ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ καὶ σποδῷ μετενόησαν.

πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ ὑμῖν.

 

Then Matthew has Jesus complaint about two particular towns, Chorazin (Χοραζείν), that was about 3 miles north of Capernaum, and Bethsaida (Βηθσαϊδάν), about 5 miles north of Capernaum on the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee.  All these towns were fairly close together.  Luke, chapter 10:13-14, has a similar statement, indicating a possible common Q source.  This reproach started with a typical prophetic curse of “woe to you” (Οὐαί σοι), especially used by Isaiah.  Jesus also mentioned the Phoenician Mediterranean cities of Tyre and Sidon (ὅτι εἰ ἐν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι) that Isaiah, chapter 23:1-12, and many of the other prophets had wailed against.  Jesus said that if these same miraculous deeds had taken place there (ἐγένοντο αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν) in these two coastal cities, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes (πάλαι ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ καὶ σποδῷ μετενόησαν).  Then Matthew has Jesus utter this solemn pronouncement “I say to you “(πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  The non-Jewish cities of Tyre and Sidon would be more tolerated on the day of judgment than the towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida (Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ ὑμῖν).  Jesus was upset at Chorazin and Bethsaida for their lack of repentance

Preaching against the various towns (Mt 11:20-11:20)

“Then he began

To reproach

The cities

In which most

Of his deeds of power

Had been done.

Because they did not repent.”

 

Τότε ἤρξατο ὀνειδίζειν τὰς πόλεις ἐν αἷς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐ μετενόησαν·

 

These introductory comments against the various Galilean towns are unique to Matthew.  Jesus started to denounce or reproach the various towns (Τότε ἤρξατο ὀνειδίζειν τὰς πόλεις) where he had worked his powerful miracles (πόλεις ἐν αἷς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ) of healing and curing.  However, in those towns, they did not repent (ὅτι οὐ μετενόησαν).  Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways.

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.

The makers of the false god idols (Bar 6:45-6:47)

“These false idol gods

Are made

By carpenters

Or goldsmiths.

They can be nothing

But what the artisans

Wish them to be.

Those who make them

Will certainly not live

Very long themselves.

How can the things

That are made

By them

Be gods?

They have left

Only lies

With reproach

For those

Who come after.”

This author points out that carpenters and goldsmiths made these false idol gods. The idol gods are what these artisans wanted them to be. Besides all these craftsmen who made these idols will not live long anyway. How then can these things made by finite humans be infinite gods? These false idol makers leave only lies and reproach for those who come after they die.

Personal lament of Jeremiah (Jer 20:7-20:9)

“Yahweh!

You have enticed me!

I was enticed!

You have overpowered me!

You have prevailed!

I have become a laughingstock

All day long!

Every one mocks me!

Whenever I speak,

I must cry out!

I must shout!

‘Violence!

Destruction!’

The word of Yahweh

Has become for me

A reproach.

It has become

A derision all day long.

If I say.

‘I will not mention him,

I will not speak any more

In his name,’

Then within me

There is something

Like a burning fire

Shut up in my bones.

I am weary

With holding it in.

I cannot.”

Jeremiah seems to blame Yahweh for enticing him into being a prophet in this personal lament. Yahweh has overpowered him so that he cannot prevail. He has become a laughing stock all day long, as everyone mocks him. Every time Jeremiah cries out “violence and destruction” to others, they reproach and deride him, despite the fact that it is the word of God in him. If he tries not to mention Yahweh and not speak about him, then there is something within him like a burning fire in his bones. Jeremiah was tired of holding it in. Thus he has no other option than to shout it out despite everything that happened to him. He can no longer hold it in.