Don’t worry (Lk 12:11-12:11)

“When they bring you

Before the synagogues,

The rulers,

And the authorities,

Do not worry

About how you are

To defend yourselves

Or what you are to say!”

 

ὅταν δὲ εἰσφέρωσιν ὑμᾶς ἐπὶ τὰς συναγωγὰς καὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας, μὴ μεριμνήσητε πῶς ἢ τί ἀπολογήσησθε ἢ τί εἴπητε

 

Luke indicated that Jesus told his disciples that when they were brought before the synagogues (ὅταν δὲ εἰσφέρωσιν ὑμᾶς ἐπὶ τὰς συναγωγὰς), the rulers or the people in charge (καὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς), and the authorities (καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας), they were not to worry or be anxious (μὴ μεριμνήσητε) about how they were to defend themselves (πῶς ἢ τί ἀπολογήσησθε) or what they would say (ἢ τί εἴπητε).  Equivalent passages to this can be found in Mark, chapter 13:11, and Matthew, chapter 10:19.  Matthew indicated that Jesus told his disciples not to worry or be anxious (μὴ μεριμνήσητε), when they were handed over (ὅταν δὲ παραδῶσιν ὑμᾶς) to these courts or tribunals.  They should not worry about how or what they should say (πῶς ἢ τί λαλήσητε).  Mark indicated that Jesus told his disciples not to worry beforehand or be anxious about what to say (μὴ προμεριμνᾶτε τί λαλήσητε), when they were handed over and brought to trial (καὶ ὅταν ἄγωσιν ὑμᾶς παραδιδόντες).  Luke was more detailed in pointing out who and where they would be tried, both in the religious synagogues and before the Roman civic rulers and authorities.  Are you open to listening to the Holy Spirit?

The Magi arrive (Mt 2:1-2:1)

“Magi

From the East

Came to Jerusalem.”

 

ἰδοὺ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα

 

Now we have some magi (μάγοι) arrive (παρεγένοντο) from an eastern area (ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν) into Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα), the capital, where Herod would have been living.  Who were these wise guys or magi?  The word “μάγοι” appears in both the Old and New Testament.  Ordinarily this word is translated as a magician or sorcerer in the sense of illusionist or fortune-teller, except for here in the Gospel of Matthew.  Magi originally were the followers of the Persian Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster.  These priests paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was regarded as a science.  Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term magi to be applied to the occult in general.  Obviously, this led to the later English term magic or magicians.  These magi also had an interest in astrology and other esoteric studies.  However, the more common use of magi was to describe magicians, or practitioners of magic.  Thus, the magicians have come to town.  These magi have been popularly referred to as wise men or kings, but there is nothing in this account that implies that they were rulers of any kind.  This story of the magi only appears in Matthew and not in the Luke infancy story.

Everyone was to obey Haggai (Hag 1:12-1:12)

“Then Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

With Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest,

With all the remnant

Of the people,

Obeyed the voice

Of Yahweh

Their God.

They obeyed

The words

Of the prophet Haggai.

Yahweh,

Their God,

Had sent him.

The people feared

Yahweh.’”

The rulers and the remaining people of Jerusalem gathered to hear the voice of Yahweh, via the prophet Haggai.  This included the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, and the high priest Joshua, as mentioned earlier.  They would obey Haggai as the voice of Yahweh, since they feared Yahweh.  Yahweh had sent them Haggai as a prophet to speak in his name.

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?

The bad situation will come to ruin (Mic 3:9-3:12)

“Hear this!

You rulers

Of the house of Jacob!

You chiefs

Of the house of Israel!

You abhor justice!

You pervert all equity!

You build Zion

With blood!

You build Jerusalem

With wrong!

Its rulers give judgment

For a bribe!

Its priests teach

For a price!

Its prophets give oracles

For money!

Yet they lean

Upon Yahweh.

They say.

‘Surely Yahweh is

With us.

No harm shall come

Upon us.’

Therefore,

Because of you,

Zion shall be plowed

As a field.

Jerusalem shall become

A heap of ruins.

The mountain of the house

Shall become a wooded height.”

Yahweh, via Micah, called out the rulers in northern Israel and southern Judah.  These rulers and chiefs had abhorred justice and perverted equity in Jerusalem and on Mount Zion.  Everything was done for money.  The rulers wanted a bribe for their judgment.  The priests had a price for their teaching.  The prophets only gave an oracle when money was supplied to them.  However, they all felt that Yahweh was on their side, so that he would protect them from any harm.  However, the response was quite different.  Mount Zion was going to be plowed like a field, while Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins.  The Temple mountain would become a pile of wood.  This specific prophecy of Micah was explicitly cited in Jeremiah, chapter 26, at the trial of Jeremiah.

Against Damascus (Am 1:3-1:5)

“Thus Says Yahweh.

For three transgressions

Of Damascus,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

They have threshed Gilead

With threshing sledges

Of iron.

So,

I will send a fire

On the house of Hazael.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.

I will break the gate bars

Of Damascus.

I will cut off

The inhabitants

From the Valley of Aven.

I will cut of

The one who holds

The scepter from Beth-eden.

The people of Syria

Shall go into exile

To Kir.’

Says Yahweh.”

In typical prophetic language, Amos said that that Yahweh had spoken to him about Damascus, one of the neighbors of the northern kingdom of Israel, the Syrian capital city, about 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, fairly close to the older northeastern territory of Manasseh. Damascus was under Aramean rule from 950-732 BCE, so that it is often referred to in the Bible as Aram instead of Syria. However, the Assyrian people conquered them in 732 BCE. The idea of numbering iniquities could be found later in the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30, talking about 3 and 4 things. The fact that Amos ranted against the neighbors of Israel was like Isaiah in chapter 17. These people of the north had defeated Gilead in 2 Kings, chapter 10. Hazel and Ben-hadad III were rulers in Damascus. The Valley of Aven or On was near Lebanon. They would be exiled to Kir, the place of their origins.

The great Greek king (Dan 11:3-11:4)

“Then a warrior king

Shall arise.

He shall rule

With great dominion.

He shall take action

As he pleases.

While still rising

In power,

His kingdom

Shall be broken.

It shall be divided

Toward the four winds of heaven,

But not to his posterity,

Nor according to the dominion

With which he ruled.

His kingdom

Shall be uprooted.

It shall go to others

Besides these.”

This warrior king was Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), who had great power. He died while still young, only 32 years old. When he died, his great kingdom was divided into 4, like the 4 winds of heaven. Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy became the 4 rulers, none of whom were his children.