The curse on Chorazin and Bethsaida (Lk 10:13-10:13)

“Woe to you!

Chorazin!

Woe to you!

Bethsaida!

If the deeds

Of power

Done in you

Had been done

In Tyre

And Sidon,

They would have repented

Long ago,

Wearing sackcloth

And sitting in ashes.”

 

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

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that both Chorazin (Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν) and Bethsaida (οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά) should be cursed.  Jesus said that if the deeds of power or the miracles done among them would have had been done (ὅτι εἰ…ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν) in Tyre (ἐν Τύρῳ) and Sidon (καὶ Σιδῶνι), they would have repented or had a change of heart (μετενόησαν) long ago (πάλαι), wearing sackcloth (ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ) and sitting in ashes (καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι).  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 11:20-21, indicating a possible common Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus denounced or reproached these various Galilean towns where he had worked his powerful miracles of healing and curing.  Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways.  Jesus complained 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.  Jesus’ 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 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 in these two coastal cities, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes, something that Chorazin and Bethsaida had not done.  What kind of town do you live in?

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

The king responds favorably also (Jon 3:6-3:6)

“When the news reached

The king of Nineveh,

He arose

From his throne.

He removed

His robe.

He covered himself

With sackcloth.

He sat in ashes.”

When the king of Nineveh heard about the proclamations of Jonah, he rose from his throne and took off his royal robes.  He then covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.  The use of the common sack cloth used for carrying vegetables instead of better clothes was a sign of mourning and repentance.  Like a good king, he was going along with his subjects who took the warnings of Jonah very seriously.

The positive response of the people of Nineveh (Jon 3:5-3:5)

“The people of Nineveh

Believed God.

They proclaimed a fast.

Everyone,

Great and small,

Put on sackcloth.”

In a sudden conversion or the fear of destruction, the people of Nineveh believed in God.  Notice that they believed in God, not Yahweh, which would have been more difficult.  Just like on the boat, Jonah seemed to be successful, even if he was not trying very hard.  They proclaimed a fast.  Then everyone, no matter whether they were important or not, put on sackcloth to go into mourning.

The priests should mourn (Joel 1:13-1:13)

“Put on sackcloth!

Lament!

You priests!

Wail!

You ministers

Of the altar!

Come!

Pass the night

In sackcloth!

You ministers

Of my God!

Grain offerings,

Drink offerings,

Are withheld

From the house

Of your God.”

The priests of the Temple should lament and wail. These ministers of the altar should spend their night in the Temple in sackcloth. There was no grain or drink offerings in the house of God.

The mourning lamentation for Tyre (Ezek 27:30-27:32)

“All these seamen

Wail aloud

Over you.

They cry bitterly.

They cast dust

On their heads.

They wallow

In ashes.

They make themselves

Bald

For you.

They put on

Sackcloth.

They weep

Over you,

In bitterness of soul,

With bitter mourning.

In their wailing,

They raise

A lamentation

For you.

They lament

Over you.

‘Who was ever destroyed

Like Tyre

In the midst

Of the sea?’”

All these seamen onlookers lamented and mourned for Tyre. They wailed loudly and cried bitterly over Tyre. In typical mourning fashion, they put dust on their heads and wallowed in ashes. They made themselves bald and put on sackcloth. They wept with a bitterness of soul in their mourning. They lamented over Tyre. They wondered if anyone had ever been destroyed on the high seas like Tyre.

The survivors (Ezek 7:16-7:18)

“If any survivors escape,

They will be found

On the mountains,

Like doves

Of the valleys.

All of them

Will be moaning

Over their iniquity.

All hands

Shall grow feeble.

All knees

Shall turn to water.

They shall put on

Sackcloth.

Horror

Shall cover them.

Shame shall be

On all faces.

Baldness shall be

On all their heads.”

Instead of being taken captive, these survivors escaped and headed to the hills. They could be found in the mountains, like droves of valley doves. They would all be moaning over their iniquity. However, their hands would grow feeble, while their knees would turn to jelly or water. They would put on sackcloth, as if in mourning. Horror would cover them. Shame would be all over their faces. They would have shaved bald heads. These survivors would not be a happy lot, even if they were alive.