The virgin Mary (Lk 1:27-1:27)

“The angel Gabriel

Went

To a virgin

Engaged to a man,

Whose name was Joseph,

Of the house of David.

The virgin’s name

Was Mary.”

 

πρὸς παρθένον ἐμνηστευμένην ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ, ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ.

 

Luke has the angel Gabriel appear to Mary, as opposed to Matthew, chapter 1:20, who had an unnamed angel appear to Joseph in a dream.  This angel Gabriel went to a virgin (πρὸς παρθένον), who was engaged (ἐμνηστευμένην) to a man named Joseph (ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ) from the house of David (ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ).  The name of this virgin was Mary (καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ).  Thus, both stories from these 2 gospels concur that Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus.  Matthew said that Joseph had resolved to get rid of Mary, instead of taking her as his wife until the angel of the Lord appeared to him.  This unnamed angel reassured Joseph that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to show Joseph that everything would be alright.  Here the emphasis is on Mary, a common name in first century Judaism based on the name of Mariam, the sister of Moses.  Mary was a virgin (παρθένου), someone who did not have sexual relations with the opposite sex, which would have been normal at this time for young girls before they were married.  However, she was engaged or betrothed to Joseph, who had Davidic ancestry.  In other words, the wedding contact had not been signed.  Thus, they were still involved with prenuptial arrangements.

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The dream of Joseph (Mt 1:20-1:20)

“But just when he resolved

To do this,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared to him

In a dream.

Saying.

‘Joseph!

Son of David!

Do not be afraid

To take Mary

As your wife.

The child conceived

In her is

From the Holy Spirit.”

 

ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου·

 

Joseph had resolved (αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος) to put away Mary, instead of taking her as his wife. Then an angel of the Lord (ἄγγελος Κυρίου) appeared to him in a dream (ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ). This is somewhat reminiscent of Joseph in Egypt, who interpreted dreams, but said that only God could tell them what they meant in Genesis, chapters 40-41. The various Israelite prophets often got their oracle messages in dreams. Notice that it is an angel of the Lord, “Κυρίου.” There will be no mention of Yahweh in the New Testament, since the Greek Old Testament had translated “Yahweh” into “Lord.” However, the sense was that this was God, the Father, the God of the Old Testament. Angels were the messengers of God, especially in the Book of Tobit, chapter 5, where the angel Raphael appeared to him. This angel goes unnamed here, not like the angel Gabriel of Luke, chapter 1. This angel told Joseph, the son of David, not to be afraid (μὴ φοβηθῇς) to take Mary (παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν) as his wife (τὴν γυναῖκά σου). He had nothing to be worried about. Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to reassure Joseph that everything would be alright. This angel then told Joseph that the child that had been conceived in her (ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν) was from the Holy Spirit (ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου). In a somewhat awkward phrasing, this text said the conception was from a Spirit that is holy rather than a Holy Spirit as earlier in this text. This shows a developing sense of the divine Holy Spirit.

The concern of Daniel about food defilement (Dan 1:8-1:8)

“But Daniel resolved

That he would not

Defile himself

With the royal rations

Of food,

Or wine.

Thus,

He asked

The palace master

To allow him

Not to defile himself.”

Daniel resolved that he would not eat the royal food or wine, since that would make him unclean. He then asked Ashpenaz, the chief of the palace not to eat this royal food. The food restrictions became a major issue in the 2nd century BCE, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (174-164 BCE) was the Greek Seleucid king who persecuted the Jews of Samaria and Judah. King Antiochus sided with the Hellenized Jews that led to the Maccabean revolt over the issue of who was a true Jewish person. The answer could be found by observing the food that they ate.

Do not use your property as collateral (Prov 6:1-6:5)

“My child!

If you have given your pledge to your neighbor,

If you have bound yourself to another,

You are snared by the utterance of your lips.

You are caught by the words of your mouth.

Do this!

My child!

Save yourself!

You have come into your neighbor’s power.

Go!

Hurry!

Plead with your neighbor!

Give your eyes no sleep.

Give your eyelids no slumber.

Save yourself

Like a gazelle from the hunter!

Save yourself

Like a bird from the hand of the fowler!”

This paternal advice continues with a strange admonition. It seems that there was an ancient custom of pledging your house to help a neighbor. However, here the father warns his children against doing this. If you have already pledged to help, then you are stuck with your own words. However, then it is time to negotiate a resolution with your neighbor since you are under his power. Plead with him until you get this resolved. Do not get any sleep until this is straightened out. You have to save yourself because you are being hunted like a hunter after an animal or a bird that is already caught in a trap.

Some Jews decide to die (Macc 1:62-1:64)

“However, many in Israel stood firm. They were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant. They did die. Very great wrath came upon Israel.”

Here we have an instance of Jewish martyrs. They were willing to die rather than to eat unclean food. They refused to abuse the holy Mosaic covenant. For that they were killed.