The great crowd on the plain field (Lk 6:17-6:17)

“Jesus came down

With them.

He stood

On a level place,

With a great crowd

Of his disciples

And a great multitude

Of people

From all Judea,

Jerusalem,

And the coast

Of Tyre

And Sidon.”

 

καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ, καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος,

 

Luke said that Jesus came down from the mountain with his new apostles (καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν).  He stood on a level place (ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ), with a great crowd of his disciples (καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ).  There was a lot of people (καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ) from all Judea (ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας), Jerusalem (καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ), and the coast of Tyre and Sidon (καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος).  Clearly, Jesus had become very popular, but there was no mention of anybody from Galilee.  Mark, chapter 3:7-8, said that Jesus left with his disciples to go to the Sea of Galilee, where, a great big crowd from Galilee and Judea that followed him.  People from everywhere were coming to listen to Jesus.  Jesus was no longer a local Galilean hero.  Mark said that people came to him in great numbers from Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan and also from the regions around Tyre and Sidon.  Obviously, Jerusalem would be interested in Jesus.  Idumea was south of Judah and part of the old country of Edom.  The other side of the Jordan would have been the old territories of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben.  Tyre and Sidon were the coastal towns of the Phoenicians in the old Asher territory.  These would have been mostly Jewish people of Israelite heritage.  Matthew, chapter 4:24-25, said that the fame of Jesus had spread all over Syria, so that huge crowds followed Jesus in Galilee.  Also, the people from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from the east bank of the Jordan River were all following Jesus.

Crowds from everywhere (Mk 3:8-3:8)

“Hearing all

That he was doing,

They came to him

In great numbers

From Jerusalem,

From Idumea,

From beyond the Jordan,

From the regions

Around Tyre

And Sidon.”

 

καὶ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰδουμαίας καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου καὶ περὶ Τύρον καὶ Σιδῶνα, πλῆθος πολύ, ἀκούοντες ὅσα ποιεῖ, ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτόν.

 

This is another short summary of Mark, that is somewhat similar to Luke, chapter 6:17, and Matthew, chapter 4:25.  People from everywhere were coming to listen to Jesus.  Jesus was no longer a local Galilean hero.  Mark said that people hearing all that he was doing, came to him in great numbers (πλῆθος πολύ, ἀκούοντες ὅσα ποιεῖ, ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτόν) from Jerusalem (καὶ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων), Idumea (καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰδουμαίας), and beyond the Jordan (καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου), also from the regions around Tyre and Sidon (καὶ περὶ Τύρον καὶ Σιδῶνα).  Obviously, Jerusalem would be interested in Jesus.  Idumea was south of Judah and part of the old country of Edom.  The other side of the Jordan would have been the old territories of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben.  Tyre and Sidon were the coastal towns of the Phoenicians in the old Asher territory.  These would have been mostly Jewish people of Israelite heritage.

The north side gates of the city (Ezek 48:30-48:31)

“These shall be

The exits of the city.

On the north side,

It shall be

Four thousand five hundred cubits

By measure.

These gates

Shall be named

After the tribes

Of Israel.

The three gates are

The gate of Reuben,

The gate of Judah,

The gate of Levi.”

There were to be 3 north side gates to the city, at the 4,500 cubits point. All the gates would be named after the various tribes of Israel. Two of these northside gates were important tribes, Judah and Levi, while the tribe of Reuben had less importance.

The tribe of Gad (Ezek 48:27-48:27)

“Adjoining the territory

Of Zebulun,

From the east side

To the west side,

Gad shall have

One portion.”

Gad was originally on the east side of the Jordan River in Joshua, chapter 13. They were originally surrounded by Manasseh on the north and west side, with Reuben to its south. It was never close to Zebulun. However, both might have been small tribes by this time.

The tribe of Judah (Ezek 48:7-48:7)

“Adjoining the territory

Of Reuben,

From the east side

To the west side,

Judah was

One portion.”

Once again, in a very summary fashion of east to west, the territory of Judah was next to Reuben.  In Joshua, chapter 15, Judah got the largest portion of land. Here, it is treated like the other tribes, as if it were not superior to them.

Crying for Moab and its vineyard (Jer 48:31-48:33)

“Therefore I wail for Moab!

I cry out for all Moab!

I mourn for

The people of Kir-heres.

More than for Jazer,

I weep for you!

O vine of Sibmah!

Your branches

Crossed over the sea,

Reached as far as Jazer.

The destroyed has fallen

Upon your summer fruits,

Upon your vintage.

Gladness has been taken away.

Joy has been taken away,

From the fruitful land

Of Moab.

I have stopped the wine

From the wine presses.

No one treads them

With shouts of joy.

The shouting is

Not the shout of joy.”

Yahweh seems to have great pity for Moab, like in Isaiah, chapter 16. He seemed very concerned about the summer fruits and the wine in Moab. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah mention the town of Kir-heres that is on the main road about 10 miles from the Dead Sea. Of particular interest to both of them was the vineyard of Sibmah, since their descriptions are almost the same. The vines of Sibmah were about 5 miles east of Heshbon, also part of Moab and Reuben. The wonderful vine shoots that had strayed into the desert and even across waters were now languishing. Jeremiah, like Isaiah, has Yahweh crying, because there would no longer be any shouting in the fields at the grape harvest time, because there were no more summer fruits. There would be no joy, gladness, shouting, or singing since there was no one to tread the wine presses. There were no more grapes. Yahweh had stopped the wine presses. The shouts that you now heard were not shouts of joy.

The destruction of the royal palace (Jer 22:6-22:7)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning

The house

Of the king of Judah.

‘You are

Like Gilead to me.

You are

Like the summit of Lebanon.

But I swear

That I will make you a desert,

An uninhabited city.

I will prepare destroyers

Against you.

All will have weapons.

They shall cut down

Your choicest cedars.

They will cast them

Into the fire.”

Just like in the preceding chapter, Yahweh promises to burn down the royal palace. The royal palace had become like Gilead to Yahweh, a pleasant mountainous area was on the eastern side of the Jordan River that originally belonged to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, present day Jordan. The summits of Lebanon refer to the high mountains with their wonderful trees in present day Lebanon. However, Yahweh was going to make the beautiful royal palace become a desert or an uninhabited city. The destroyers or invaders were going to come and cut down their choicest wood cedar building. They would all be set on fire as this beauty would be destroyed.

The languishing vines of Moab (Isa 16:8-16:11)

“The fields of Heshbon languish.

The vine of Sibmah languishes.

Those clusters once made drunk

The lords of the nations.

They reached to Jazer.

They strayed to the desert.

Their shoots once spread abroad.

They crossed over the sea.

Therefore I weep

With the weeping of Jazer

For the vines of Sibmah.

I drench you

With my tears.

O Heshbon!

O Elealeh!

The shout over your fruit harvest

Has ceased.

The shout over your grain harvest

Has ceased.

Joy is taken away,

Gladness is taken away

From the fruitful field.

In the vineyards,

No songs are sung.

No shouts are raised.

No one treads out wine

In the presses.

The vintage shout is hushed.

Therefore my soul throbs

Like a lyre for Moab.

My very soul throbs

For Kir-heres.”

Heshbon was in the northern part of Reuben or the northern part of Moab. The vines of Sibmah were about 5 miles east of Heshbon, also part of Moab and Reuben. Elealeh was a town about a mile outside of Heshbon, also part of Reuben and Moab. The grapes from this vine at Sibmah made many various great leaders drunk. There is a special mention of Jazer, a Levitical city near Gilead that was given to Gad in Joshua, chapter 21. The wonderful vine shoots that had strayed into the desert and even across waters were now languishing. Now Isaiah was also crying, because there would no longer be any shouting in the fields at the grape or grain harvest time. There would be no joy, gladness, shouting, or singing at harvest time, because there was no harvest. There was no one to tread the wine presses because there were no grapes. Therefore Isaiah was like a lyre or harp throbbing for Moab and the folks at Kir, on the main road, about 10 miles from the Dead Sea, as mentioned earlier.

The revolt against Aaron (Sir 45:18-45:22)

“Outsiders conspired against Aaron.

They envied him in the wilderness.

There was Dathan with his followers.

There was Abiram with his followers.

There was the company of Korah.

They were filled with wrath and anger.

The Lord saw it.

He was not pleased.

In the heat of his anger

They were destroyed.

He performed wonders against them.

He consumed them in a flaming fire.

He added glory to Aaron.

He gave him a heritage.

He allotted to him

The best of the first fruits.

He prepared bread of first fruits

In abundance.

They eat the sacrifices of the Lord.

He gave it to him

And his descendants.

But in the land of the people

He has no inheritance.

He has no portion

Among the people.

The Lord himself

Is his portion

The Lord himself

Is his inheritance.”

In this section Sirach is relying on Numbers, chapter 16, about a revolt of some Levi tribe members, particularly Korah, along with Dathan and Abiram from the tribe of Reuben. It was not clear why Sirach called them outsiders since there were about 250 of those Israelites in the desert who actually revolted against Moses and Aaron. This uprising was put down, when Moses called for an incense face-off. Then Yahweh made the ground catch fire and split up so that this fire swallowed up these trouble makers. Aaron was then given more glory. This is why he and his descendants receive the best of the first fruits of the harvest. However, the Levites were not given any territory in the new Promise Land like the other tribes. Their portion was the Lord himself. That was their inheritance. Once again, this was an attempt to explain the situation of the later Levitical priests.

The dwelling place of the Merarite Levites (1 Chr 6:63-6:63)

“To the Merarites according to their families were allotted twelve towns out of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.”

Merari was the 3rd son of Levi who received 12 towns on the east side of the Jordan River. Somehow Zebulun was included with this group, but they were on the west side of the Jordan. Once again, there is no mention of their names as in Joshua, chapter 21.