The two robbers (Mt 27:38-27:38)

“Then two bandits

Were crucified

With Jesus,

One on his right

And one on his left.”

 

Τότε σταυροῦνται σὺν αὐτῷ δύο λῃσταί, εἷς ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ εἷς ἐξ εὐωνύμων.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:27.  Luke, chapter 23:39-42, has a dialogue between Jesus and the two bandits or criminals on either side of Jesus, while on the cross.  However, in John, chapter 19:18, there was only a simple mention of two other criminals crucified with him on either side of Jesus.  Matthew said that there were two bandits or robbers crucified with Jesus (Τότε σταυροῦνται σὺν αὐτῷ δύο λῃσταί), one on his right side (εἷς ἐκ δεξιῶν), and the other on his left side (καὶ εἷς ἐξ εὐωνύμων).  Matthew never mentioned any interaction of Jesus with either one of these two criminal bandits.

 

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Jesus curses the fig tree (Mt 21:19-21:20)

“Jesus saw a fig tree

By the side of the road.

He went to it.

He found nothing on it

But leaves only.

He said to it.

‘May no fruit

Ever come

From you again!’

The fig tree withered

At once.

When the disciples saw it,

They were amazed.

They said.

‘How did the fig tree

Wither at once?’”

 

καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν μίαν ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ ἦλθεν ἐπ’ αὐτήν, καὶ οὐδὲν εὗρεν ἐν αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ φύλλα μόνον, καὶ λέγει αὐτῇ Οὐ μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. καὶ ἐξηράνθη παραχρῆμα ἡ συκῆ.

καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ ἐθαύμασαν λέγοντες Πῶς παραχρῆμα ἐξηράνθη ἡ συκῆ;

 

This story about Jesus cursing the fig tree can be found in Mark, chapter 11:13-14, in a condensed form.  Luke, chapter 13:6-9, has a parable about a fig tree that would not bear fruit.  Jesus saw one fig tree by the side of the road (καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν μίαν ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ).  He went over to it (ἦλθεν ἐπ’ αὐτήν) but he found no fruit (καὶ οὐδὲν εὗρεν ἐν αὐτῇ), since only leaves were on it (εἰ μὴ φύλλα μόνον).  He then said to the tree (καὶ λέγει αὐτῇ) that no fruit would ever come from that tree again (Οὐ μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα).  Then the fig tree withered or dried up instantly (καὶ ἐξηράνθη παραχρῆμα ἡ συκῆ).  When his disciples saw this (καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ), they were amazed and marveled (ἐθαύμασαν).  They wondered about this and said (λέγοντες).  “How did this fig tree wither immediately (Πῶς παραχρῆμα ἐξηράνθη ἡ συκῆ)?”  Even his disciples were amazed about this withering fig tree.

Do not listen to false predictions (Jer 27:9-27:11)

“‘Therefore

You must not listen

To your prophets,

To your diviners,

To your dreamers,

To your soothsayers,

To your sorcerers.

If they are saying to you.

‘You shall not serve

The king of Babylon.’

They are prophesying

A lie to you.

The result will be

That you will be removed

Far from your land.

I will drive you out.

You will perish. But any nation

That will bring its neck

Under the yoke

Of the king of Babylon,

Thus serve him,

I will leave on its own land.

They will till it.

They will live there.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has an oracle of Yahweh about the false prophets who are telling the people not to obey the king of Babylon. Whether it is a prophet, a diviner, a dreamer, a soothsayer, or a sorcerer, who tell them not to serve the king of Babylon, they are prophesying lies. If they listened to these liars, Yahweh was going to drive them out of their land, so that they would perish. However, if any country was to put on the yoke of Babylon and serve its king, Yahweh was going to let them stay on their own land, live there, and till the soil. There is no doubt that Yahweh was on the side of the King of Babylon, as presented here.

 

Be careful in what you do (Eccl 10:8-10:11)

“Whoever digs a pit

Will fall into it.

Whoever breaks through a wall,

Will be bitten by a snake.

Whoever quarries stones

Will be hurt by them.

Whoever splits logs

Will be endangered by them.

If the iron is blunt,

If one does not whet the edge,

Then more strength must be exerted.

But wisdom helps one to succeed.

If the serpent bites before it is charmed,

There is no advantage in a charmer.”

Here Qoheleth offers more wise advice. If you dig a pit, you probably will fall into it. If you break through a wall, you might find a snake ready to bite you on the other side. If you dig out stones, you might be hurt by them. If you split logs, they could hurt you. If you have a blunt edge and you do not sharpen it, you will have to use more force. Wisdom can help you to succeed. What is the advantage of being a snake charmer if the snake bites you before you can charm it?

Similar letters to the other kings (1 Macc 15:22-15:24)

“The Roman Consul wrote the same thing to King Demetrius, King Attalus, King Ariarathes, King Arsaces, and to all the countries. He also wrote the same to Sampsames, the Spartans, Delos, Myndos, Sicyon, Caria, Samos, Pamphylia, Lycia, and Halicarnassus. He also wrote the same to Rhodes, Phaselis, Cos, Side, Aradus, Gortyna, Cnidus, Cyprus and Cyrene. They also sent a copy of these things to the high priest Simon.”

The Roman Consul wrote a similar letter to a whole lot of people and countries. Who are all these people and places? Remember that King Demetrius II is still the king of the Seleucid Empire, but he is a captive in Persia. King Attalus II was the king of Pergammum, an ancient Greek city, from 159-138 BCE. King Ariarathes V was the king of Cappadocia from 162-130 BCE. King Arsaces IV (171-138 BCE) was the ruler of Persia that held King Demetrius II as a prisoner. Outside of the Egyptian kingdom, these were the major kingdoms. Most of the other places were the islands in the Mediterranean Sea (Delos, Samos, Rhodes, and Cyprus) or the Greek city states (Sampsames, Spartans, Myndos, Sicyon, Caria, Pamphylia, Lycia, Halicarnassus, Phaselis, Cos, Side, Aradus, Gortyna, Cnidus, and Cyrene). Obviously, he also sent a copy to Simon.