The holy child (Lk 2:23-2:23)

“As it is written

In the law

Of the Lord.

‘Every firstborn male

Shall be designated

As holy

To the Lord.”

 

καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν νόμῳ Κυρίου ὅτι Πᾶν ἄρσεν διανοῖγον μήτραν ἅγιον τῷ Κυρίῳ κληθήσεται,

 

Luke further elaborated about the written Law of the Lord (καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν νόμῳ Κυρίου).  In a paraphrase of Exodus, chapter 13:2, he said that every male born or opening the womb (ὅτι Πᾶν ἄρσεν διανοῖγον μήτραν) shall be designated or called holy to the Lord (ἅγιον τῷ Κυρίῳ κληθήσεται).  It no longer is the Law of Moses, but the Law of the Lord God.  Notice that Luke did not say first born, but just male.  This presentation of the male child is similar to Hannah presenting Samuel in 1 Samuel, chapter 1:24-27.  Hannah brought her young son Samuel to the Temple of Yahweh at Shiloh.  There they saw the prophet Eli.  Thus, she gave or lent Samuel to Yahweh and the prophet Eli.  Luke made sure to point out that Elizabeth, Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary were all very good law-abiding Jewish parents.

Eighty pilgrim worshippers arrive at Mizpah (Jer 41:4-41:5)

“On the day after

The murder of Governor Gedaliah,

Before anyone knew of it,

Eighty men arrived

From Shechem,

From Shiloh,

From Samaria.

Their beards were shaved.

Their clothes were torn.

Their bodies were gashed.

They were bringing

Grain offerings

With incense

To present

At the temple of Yahweh.”

The day after the death of Judean governor, 80 pilgrims from the northern areas of Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria came by. As Mizpah was near Jerusalem, they would want to stop there. Obviously, they knew nothing about the death of Governor Gedaliah the day before, but they might have heard about the good times at Mizpah. These pilgrims had shaved beards, torn clothes, and gashes on their bodies, typical signs of mourning. They may have been on their way to mourn the passing of the Temple in Jerusalem with their grain offerings and incense. However, they might also be on the way to celebrate the feast of Tents.

The confrontation with Jeremiah (Jer 26:8-26:9)

“When Jeremiah had finished

Speaking everything

That Yahweh had commanded him

To speak

To all the people,

Then the priests,

The prophets,

With all the people

Laid hold of him.

Saying.

‘You shall die!

Why have you prophesied

In the name of Yahweh?

Saying.

‘This house shall be

Like Shiloh.

This city shall be desolate,

Without inhabitants.’

All the people gathered

Around Jeremiah

In the house of Yahweh.”

When Jeremiah had finished speaking what Yahweh had asked him to say to the people of Judah, the priests and the prophets were upset. They said that Jeremiah should die. Why had he prophesied in the name of Yahweh? Why did he compare Jerusalem to Shiloh? Why did he say that Jerusalem would be an abandoned city? Thus all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the Temple to confront him.

 

Yahweh informs Jeremiah what to say (Jer 26:4-26:6)

“You shall say to them,

‘Thus says Yahweh.

If you will not listen to me,

To walk in my law

That I have set before you,

Then there will be a curse.

If you do not heed the words

Of my servants,

The prophets,

Whom I send to you urgently,

Even though you

Have not heeded them,

Then I will make this house

Like Shiloh.

I will make this city

A curse

For all the nations of the earth.’”

Yahweh tells Jeremiah exactly what to say to the people of Judah. If they do not listen to Yahweh and walk in the law that he gave them, he will curse them. If they do not heed the words of his servants, his prophets that he sent to them, then he would make their Temple like that of Shiloh in Samaria. Both the ancient Canaanites and the Israelites had used Shiloh as a cultic worship center, until the Temple was built in Jerusalem during the time of King David (1010-970 BCE) and King Solomon (970-931 BCE). Since they had not listened to the prophets of Yahweh, he was going to curse this city of Jerusalem in a way that all the countries of the world would know about it.

Shiloh (Jer 7:12-7:15)

“‘Go now to my place

That was in Shiloh.

There I made

My name dwell at first.

See what I did to it,

Due to the wickedness

Of my people Israel.

Now,

Because you have done

All these things

Watch out!’

Says Yahweh.

‘When I spoke to you persistently,

You did not listen.

When I called you,

You did not answer.

Therefore I will do

To the house

That is called by my name,

In which you trust,

What I did to Shiloh.

This is the place

That I gave to you

As well as your ancestors.

I will do

Just what I did to Shiloh.

I will cast you out of my sight.

I will do

Just as I cast out all your kinsmen,

All the offspring of Ephraim.’”

Shiloh had been an ancient Canaanite shrine and then an Israelite shrine until it was destroyed by the Philistines around 1050 BCE. Shiloh was in the Ephraim territory, north of Bethel and Jericho, about 20 miles north of Jerusalem. It had been an Israelite shrine where the Ark of the Covenant was until Jerusalem was built by King David and King Solomon. Here Yahweh reminds Jeremiah that his name had lived at Shiloh. However, due to the wickedness of those people, he changed his living place to Jerusalem. Like them, these people in Jerusalem were not listening when Yahweh called. They did not answer him. Thus he was going to do to Jerusalem what he had done to Shiloh. He was going to cast them all out of his sight, as he had done to Ephraim and all its descendants.

The defeat of Israel (Ps 78:60-78:66)

“He abandoned his dwelling at Shiloh,

The tent where he dwelt among mortals.

He delivered his power to captivity.

He delivered his glory to the hand of the foe.

He gave his people to the sword.

He vented his wrath on his heritage.

Fire devoured their young men.

Their girls had no marriage song.

Their priests fell by the sword.

Their widows made no lamentation.

Then Yahweh awoke as from sleep,

Like a warrior shouting because of wine.

He put his adversaries to rout.

He put them to everlasting shame.”

This is a reference to 1 Samuel, chapter 4, about the Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh. This was when the Philistines defeated the Israelites. Things were looking bad for Israel. God was angry at them. People died by the sword. Fire destroyed their young men so that the young girls had no marriage songs. The priests died by the sword, but somehow the widows were not able to mourn. Finally Yahweh woke up as if he were asleep. He then shouted like a warrior full of wine. God then put the adversaries of Yahweh to rout in everlasting shame.

Jeroboam sends his wife to the prophet Ahijah (1 Kings 14:1-14:3)

“At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam fell sick. Jeroboam said to his wife. ‘Go! Disguise yourself, so that it will not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam. Go to Shiloh. The prophet Ahijah is there. He is the one who said of me that I should be king over this people. Take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey. Go to him. He will tell you what shall happen to the child.’”

The son of Jeroboam was sick. Interesting enough, the name of the son is almost the same as the prophet – Ahijah (prophet) Abijah (son). Jeroboam wants to send his unnamed wife to the prophet who had told Jeroboam that he was going to be king. Jeroboam had a lot of trust in him. Jeroboam said that his wife should disguise herself so that no one would know that she was his wife. She was also supposed to bring food gifts with her to see Ahijah, who would tell her the fate of their child.

The death of the priest Eli (1 Sam 4:12-4:18)

“A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line. He came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and with earth upon his head. When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching. Eli’s heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city and told the news, the whole city cried out. When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said. ‘What is this uproar?’ Then the man came quickly and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety-eight years old. His eyes were set, so that he could not see. The man said to Eli. ‘I have just come from the battle. I fled from the battle today.’ Eli said. ‘How did it go, my son?’ The messenger replied. ‘Israel has fled before the Philistines. There has also been a great slaughter among the troops. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead. The ark of God has been captured.’ When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the door of the temple. His neck was broken and he died. He was a heavy old man. He had judged Israel forty years”

A messenger, who was a Benjaminite, came from Shiloh with the news that the Israelites had been defeated. The Ark of the Covenant had been lost. Eli was 98 years old sitting on his chair, nearly blind and very heavy. When he heard the news about the death of his 2 sons and the lost ark, he fell out of his chair backwards at the door of the temple as he broke his neck and died. He had been at Shiloh for over 40 years. The text said that he was a judge, but he is not normally listed as a judge. He certainly was a prominent prophetic man for his generation, seemingly the chief priest at the temple in Shiloh. He was less phased about his sons’ deaths than he was about the loss of the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant in the Israelite-Philistine war (1 Sam 4:1-4:9)

“In those days, the Philistines mustered for war against Israel. Israel went out to battle against them. They encamped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up in line against Israel. When the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. When the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said. ‘Why has Yahweh put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh here from Shiloh, so that he may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.’ So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh, who is enthroned on the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the Ark of the Covenant of God.”

This almost sounds like the continuation of the war with the Philistines that Samson was involved with in Judges, chapters 14-16. Ebenezer and Aphek seem to be in the area that was assigned to Benjamin, between Shiloh and Jerusalem. In the first battle, the Philistines seem to defeat the Israelites by killing 4.000 of them. The Israelite elders decided to have the Ark of the Covenant come from Shiloh to help them defeat the Philistines. The sons of Eli brought the Ark of the Covenant to the battle field.

“When the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said. ‘What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?’ When they learned that the ark of Yahweh had come to the camp, the Philistines were afraid. They said. ‘Gods have come into the camp.’ They also said. ‘Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, in order not to become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you. Be men and fight.’”

The Philistines were a little apprehensive when the Ark of the Covenant arrived since they had heard a loud shout coming from the camp. They also knew how Yahweh had saved the Israelites in Egypt and the various battles on the east and west side of the Jordan River. However, they decided to be courageous men and fight. This is one of the few times that we see the perspective of the enemies of Israel. In fact they refer to Yahweh in the plural as if there were multiple Yahwehs.

The prayer of Hannah (1 Sam 1:9-1:18)

“After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of Yahweh. Hannah was deeply distressed and prayed to Yahweh. She wept bitterly. She made this vow. ‘O Yahweh of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant and remember me. Do not forget your servant, but give to your servant a male child. Then I will set him before you as a Nazirite, until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants. No razor shall touch his head.”

After eating and drinking, Hannah went to the temple, where Eli the priest was sitting on his chair seat. Hannah wept and prayed for a son. If she had a son, she would dedicate him to Yahweh. He would be a Nazirite, never drinking or shaving his head, like Samson.

“As she continued praying before Yahweh, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently. Only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought that she was drunk. So Eli said to her. ‘How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.’ But Hannah answered. ‘No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before Yahweh. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.’ Then Eli answered. ‘Go in peace. The God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him.’ She said. ‘Let your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then the woman went to her quarters. Her countenance was no longer sad.”

Eli thought that Hannah was a drunken lady because she moved her lips but no sound came out. However, Eli and Hannah had a conversation. Hannah explained that she was troubled not drunk. Then Eli told her that her petition has been granted. Eli acted like an oracle here. She then went away happy.