The guards were afraid (Mt 28:4-28:4)

“The guards shook

In fear of him.

They became

Like dead men.”

 

ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ φόβου αὐτοῦ ἐσείσθησαν οἱ τηροῦντες καὶ ἐγενήθησαν ὡς νεκροί.

 

Matthew is the only one who mentioned that these guards were afraid.  In the 3 other gospel stories, there was nothing about the guards at the tomb, even though there was a mention of the other men in the tomb.  Thus, Matthew uniquely said that the guards or those keeping watch over the tomb (οἱ τηροῦντες) shook or trembled in fear (ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ φόβου αὐτοῦ ἐσείσθησαν) of this angel of the Lord.  These guards became like dead men (καὶ ἐγενήθησαν ὡς νεκροί).  They did not die, however.

The Temple curtain is torn in two (Mt 27:51-27:51)

“Then the curtain

Of the Temple

Was torn in two,

From top to bottom.

The earth shook.

The rocks were split.”

 

Καὶ ἰδοὺ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ ἐσχίσθη ἀπ’ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω εἰς δύο, καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐσείσθη, καὶ αἱ πέτραι ἐσχίσθησαν,

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:38, about the Temple being torn in two, except there is no mention of an earthquake.  There was no mention of the Temple curtain tearing or the earthquake in Luke, chapter 23, or John, chapter 19.  Matthew said that the curtain of the Temple or the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the other parts of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Καὶ ἰδοὺ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ ἐσχίσθη ἀπ’ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω εἰς δύο).  There also was an earthquake as the ground shook (καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐσείσθη) and the rocks split (καὶ αἱ πέτραι ἐσχίσθησαν).  Matthew also mentioned an earthquake in chapter 28:2, like the end times of the Old Testament Day of Yahweh.  Perhaps this indicates a prediction of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

Derision of Jesus (Mt 27:39-27:40)

“Those who passed by

Derided him.

They shook

Their heads.

They said.

‘You who would destroy

The Temple,

And then build it

In three days,

Save yourself!

If you are

The Son of God,

Come down

From the cross.’”

 

Οἱ δὲ παραπορευόμενοι ἐβλασφήμουν αὐτὸν κινοῦντες τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτῶν

καὶ λέγοντες Ὁ καταλύων τὸν ναὸν καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις οἰκοδομῶν, σῶσον σεαυτόν, εἰ Υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ κατάβηθι ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:29-30.  In Luke, chapter 23:35, the religious leaders were doing the mocking.  However, John did not have anyone making remarks about Jesus.  Matthew said that some passing by people abused and derided Jesus (Οἱ δὲ παραπορευόμενοι ἐβλασφήμουν αὐτὸν).  They shook their heads at Jesus (κινοῦντες τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτῶν).  They reminded Jesus (καὶ λέγοντες) that he had said if the Temple was destroyed (Ὁ καταλύων τὸν ναὸν), he would rebuild it in three days (καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις οἰκοδομῶν).  They told Jesus to save himself (σῶσον σεαυτόν).  If he was the Son of God (εἰ Υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ Θεοῦ), why didn’t he come down from the cross (καὶ κατάβηθι ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ).  The taunting of these people seemed to turn on Jesus’ own words.

The distressed city of Nineveh (Nah 2:6-2:9)

“The river gates

Are opened.

The palace trembles.

It is decreed

That the city

Be exiled.

Its slave women were

Led away,

Moaning

Like doves,

Beating their breasts.

Nineveh is

Like a pool

Whose waters

Run away.

‘Halt!

Halt!’

They cry.

But no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!

Plunder the gold!

There is no end

Of treasure.

There is an abundance

Of every precious thing.

Devastation!

Desolation!

Destruction!

Hearts faint!

Knees tremble!

All loins quake!

All faces grow pale!”

Nahum painted this picture of chaos in Nineveh.  He said that the river gates were opened, so that the palace and the people in it were trembling.  The people of this city were going to go into exile.  The slave women were led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.  The whole city of Nineveh had become like an overflowing pool.  People were saying stop, but no one was listening.  No one turned back as they keep on fleeing.  Meanwhile, there was a great plunder of their treasures of gold, silver, and the other abundant precious things.  Everywhere there was devastation, desolation, and destruction in this great city.  Hearts were fainting, while kneels were trembling.  Their faces grew pale as their loins shook.

The holy cry (Isa 6:3-6:4)

“One seraph called to another.

They said.

‘Holy,

Holy,

Holy

Is Yahweh of hosts!

The whole earth

Is full of his glory.’

The foundation pivots

On the thresholds

Shook at the voices

Of those who called.

The house was filled

With smoke.”

Now the seraphs cried out about the holiness of Yahweh, the Lord. The whole earth is full of his glory. This simple phrase of triple holiness became part of the introduction to the later Christian or Roman Catholic consecration at the Liturgy of the Eucharist with its famous “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.” Emphasizing the holiness of Yahweh was a major theme of the biblical writings. These voices were so strong that they shook the foundation pivots of the threshold to the Temple. On top of that, the whole Temple or house of Yahweh was filled with smoke.

God of the whirlwind (Ps 77:16-77:20)

“When the waters saw you!

O God!

When the waters saw you,

They were afraid.

The very deep trembled.

The clouds poured out water.

The skies thundered.

Your arrows flashed on every side.

The crash of your thunder

Was in the whirlwind.

Your lightnings lit up the world.

The earth trembled.

The earth shook.

Your way was through the sea.

Your path was through the mighty waters.

Your footprints were unseen.

You led your people like a flock

By the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

This psalm ends with a remembrance of the power and presence of Yahweh when he was with Moses and Aaron. He recalled the power of God in the storms. He remembered how Yahweh had helped his people get out of Egypt. These themes were captured in this ancient hymn to God. The waters were afraid of God, as if the waters had feelings of trembling before God. The lightnings in the sky were the arrows of Yahweh. The thunder was his voice. The earth trembled, much like the waters. The earth shook. However, he led his people by way of the great sea so that they were no footprints left behind. He led his people like a flock of sheep through the hands of Moses and Aaron. Notice that Aaron is considered the equivalent to Moses here.

The power of the voice of Yahweh (Ps 29:5-29:8)

“The voice of Yahweh breaks the cedars.

Yahweh breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf.

He makes Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of Yahweh flashes forth flames of fire.

The voice of Yahweh shakes the wilderness.

Yahweh shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.”

The thunderous voice of Yahweh broke open the great cedars of Lebanon that had been part of the wood that made up the Temple in Jerusalem. Lebanon and its mountain area north of Israel had been friendly to David. However, Yahweh had control of them like a young calf. He also had Sirion acting like a young wild ox or a buffalo. Sirion was a Phoenician name for Mount Hermon. They also knew that the thunder usually accompanied lightning which set off flash fires. The thunderous storm even caused the earth to vibrate so that the wilderness land even shook. The wilderness of Kadesh, which was in the northern Syrian area where some battles had taken place, was also vulnerable to the thunderous voice of Yahweh.

Yahweh controls the heavens (Ps 18:9-18:15)

“He bowed the heavens.

He came down.

Thick darkness was under his feet.

He rode on a cherub.

He flew in the air.

He came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.

He made darkness his covering around him.

His canopy was thick clouds

Dark with water.

Out of the brightness before him

There broke through his clouds

Hailstones and coals of fire.

Yahweh also thundered in the heavens.

The Most High uttered his voice.

He sent out his arrows.

He scattered them.

He flashed forth lightning.

He routed them.

Then the channels of the sea were seen.

The foundations of the world were laid bare.

At your rebuke!

Yahweh!

At the blast of the breath of your nostrils!”

This psalm talks about Yahweh and his control of the heavens just like in 2 Samuel, chapter 22. Yahweh came out of the clouds with darkness beneath him. He came down from heaven riding in the sky on an angelic cherub on the wings of the wind. He, of course, was the source of the thunder and the lightning. His voice was like thunder as he sent lightening to chase his enemies. The seas shook and the foundations of earth trembled from the blast of breath from his nose.  Yahweh had laid the foundations of the earth at the bottom of the sea. His nose had a big effect as a blast of his breath came upon the earth. Yahweh was directly interfering with the earth to help David through the use of thunder and lightning.

Israel is in mourning (1 Macc 1:25-1:28)

“Israel mourned deeply in every community.

‘Rulers and elders groaned.

Maidens and young men became faint.

The beauty of women faded.

Every bridegroom took up the lament.

She who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.

Even the land trembled for shook for its inhabitants.

All the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.’”

This is some kind of poem. The desecration of the Temple had a huge impact on the Jerusalem community. The rulers and elders were upset. The young men and women were fainting and lamenting. The land shook because the house of Jacob was clothed in shame. Notice it is not the house of Israel, but the house of Jacob.