The family of Jesus (Mt 13:55-13:56)

“Is not this the carpenter’s son?

Is not his mother

Called Mary?

Are not his brothers

James,

Joseph,

Simon,

And Judas?

Are not all his sisters with us?

Where then did he

Get all this?’”

 

οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τοῦ τέκτονος υἱός; οὐχ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ λέγεται Μαριὰμ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ Σίμων καὶ Ἰούδας;

καὶ αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ οὐχὶ πᾶσαι πρὸς ἡμᾶς εἰσιν; πόθεν οὖν τούτῳ ταῦτα πάντα;

 

This story about the relatives of Jesus can be found in Mark, chapter 6:3.  The local people asked, was he not this carpenter’s son (οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τοῦ τέκτονος υἱός)?  Matthew did not use the carpenter’s name, when in the prologue Joseph played a major role.  A carpenter could also mean a builder or artisan.  However, Matthew explicitly mentioned the name of Jesus’ mother, Mary, who played a minor role in the prologue.  Was not his mother called Mary (οὐχ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ λέγεται Μαριὰμ)?  Were not his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ Σίμων καὶ Ἰούδας)?  Were not all his sisters there with them also (καὶ αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ οὐχὶ πᾶσαι πρὸς ἡμᾶς εἰσιν)?  Where then did he get all this  knowledge and power (πόθεν οὖν τούτῳ ταῦτα πάντα)?  Once again there is the question of the brothers and sisters of Jesus as mentioned earlier in chapter 12:46. These brothers and sisters could be biological brothers or sisters, half-brothers and half-sisters from a first marriage of Joseph, or kissing cousins or other close cousins of the family.  The Hebrew and Aramaic language did not have a distinctive word for cousins, so that the word “brother” and “sister” was often used to mean more than a biological brother.  Just as today, people sometimes refers to others as brothers or sisters, when there is no biological link.  Half-brothers often refer to themselves as brothers or sisters today also.  The traditional belief of Christians, even though the Reformation period, has been that Mary was a virgin, so that Jesus was her only son.  However, the Greek language did have a word for cousins.  Here there are explicit names for the brothers of Jesus, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, who may have been leaders in the early Christian community but were never mentioned as disciples.  They clearly were relatives of Jesus, exactly how is not clear

The list of the first four major apostles (Mt 10:2-10:4)

“These are the names

Of the twelve apostles.

First, Simon,

Also known as Peter,

And his brother Andrew.

James,

The son of Zebedee,

And his brother John.”

 

Τῶν δὲ δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τὰ ὀνόματά ἐστιν ταῦτα· πρῶτος Σίμων ὁ λεγόμενος Πέτρος καὶ Ἀνδρέας ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ, καὶ Ἰάκωβος ὁ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάνης ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ,

 

This section about the names of the 12 apostles is similar to Mark, chapter 3:16-19 and Luke, chapter 6:13-16.  This list can also be compared to the list in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1:13.  Notice that they are no longer called the 12 disciples (δώδεκα μαθητὰς) but the 12 apostles (δὲ δώδεκα ἀποστόλων).  They had changed from being mere followers (μαθητὰς) to now being sent out as apostles (ἀποστόλων).  These are names of the 12 apostles (Τῶν δὲ δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τὰ ὀνόματά ἐστιν ταῦτα).  Matthew had already mentioned, in chapter 4:18-22, the first 4 names, but the other names appear here for the first time, except for Matthew the tax collector.  First of all, there was Simon, known as Peter (πρῶτος Σίμων ὁ λεγόμενος Πέτρος), with his brother Andrew (καὶ Ἀνδρέας ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ).  Then the 2 sons of Zebedee (ὁ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου), James and John (καὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάνης ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ).  Clearly, these 4 apostles were considered the most important with Peter at the top of this group.  In all the listings, they are always first.  However, Andrew comes after James and John in Mark and in the Acts of the Apostles.

The two brother fishermen, Simon and Andrew (Mt 4:18-4:18)

“As Jesus walked

By the Sea of Galilee,

He saw two brothers,

Simon,

Who is called Peter,

With Andrew,

His brother.

They were casting a net

Into the sea.

They were fishermen.”

 

Περιπατῶν δὲ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν δύο ἀδελφούς, Σίμωνα τὸν λεγόμενον Πέτρον καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντας ἀμφίβληστρον εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν· ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλεεῖς.

 

Matthew, as well as the other 4 canonical gospels, has Jesus meeting Simon Peter for the first time at the beginning of his ministry.  However, here Matthew is following the simple comment of Mark, chapter 1:16, rather than the elaborate story of Luke, chapter 5:1:9, where there is no mention of Peter’s brother Andrew.  As Jesus was walking or strolling along the Sea of Galilee (Περιπατῶν δὲ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας), he saw two brothers (εἶδεν δύο ἀδελφούς).  One of these men was called Simon or Peter (Σίμωνα τὸν λεγόμενον Πέτρον), since it was common for people to have both a Hebrew name like Simon and a Greek name like Peter.  His brother, on the other hand seemed to have only a Greek name, Andrew.  This may account for the different names of the apostles in the various gospel stories.  Both these brothers were casting their large fishing nets into the sea (βάλλοντας ἀμφίβληστρον εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  Thus, they were called fisherman (ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλεεῖς).  John, chapter 1:40-42, had these two brothers from the town of Bethsaida, about 5 miles north of Capernaum, where the Jordan River runs into the Sea of Galilee.

The battle with Nicanor (2 Macc 14:15-14:17)

“When the Jews heard of Nicanor’s coming and the gathering of the gentiles, they sprinkled dust upon their heads. They prayed to him who established his own people forever. He always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself. At the command of the leader, they set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a village called Dessau. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabees, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily checked because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy.”

Once again this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. Here the Jews sprinkled their heads with dust and prayed, while there was no mention of that in 1 Maccabees. Here they are battling at Dessau and not Caphar-salama as in 1 Maccabees. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabeus seems to have suffered a minor setback because of some consternation.

The problem of bribery (2 Macc 10:18-10:23)

“At least nine thousand people took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a siege. Judas Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, as well as Zacchaeus and his troops, a force sufficient to besiege them. He himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed. But those with Simon, who were money-hungry, were bribed by some of those who were in the towers. On receiving seventy thousand drachmas, they let some of people slip away. When word of what had happened came to Judas Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the people. He accused these men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. Then he killed these men who had turned traitor. He then immediately captured the two towers. Having success at arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.”

This incident was not found in 1 Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus set up a siege around 2 towers. He left his brothers Simon and Joseph in charge with Zacchaeus and his troops to keep up the siege. However, some money-hungry men with Simon, his brother, were bribed by people in the tower. A drachma was a Greek coin probably worth about $25.00 USA. 70,000 of these would be about a little less than 2 million ($2,000,000.00) dollars, a handsome sum. I do not know what they were going to do with this money. Anyway, Judas Maccabeus found out that many had escaped by paying this bribe. Apparently there were only a few people under Simon who were doing this so he had them killed. Then they captured the strongholds and killed the rest of them, some 20,000 people.

Judas Maccabeus gives his brothers assignments (2 Macc 8:21-8:23)

“With these words Judas Maccabeus filled them with good courage. He made them ready to die for their laws and their country. Then he divided his army into four parts. He appointed his brothers also, Simon, Joseph, and Jonathan, each to command a division, putting fifteen hundred men under each. Besides, he appointed Eleazar to read aloud from the holy book. He gave the watchword.

‘God’s help!’

Then, leading the first division himself, he joined battle with Nicanor.”

Judas Maccabeus had filled his 6,000 troops with courage as they were ready to die for their laws and their country. He divided his army into 4 parts among his brothers. There was Simon, who will become the high priest from 142-134 BCE. Then there was Joseph or as he was called in 1 Maccabees, chapter 2, John. This John died in 1 Maccabees, chapter 9, at the hands of the Nabateans. Jonathan is perhaps the next most famous as he succeeded Judas and was the high priest from 160-142 BCE.   Eleazar here is asked to read the holy book of scripture. There might have been an attempt to put this Eleazar with the Eleazar of chapter 6 of this book. However, in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, Eleazar died at the battle of Beth-zechariah, killing an elephant. Interesting enough, the cry “God’s Help!” was found in one of the 1st century Qumran War Scrolls for those returning from war. There might be a connection here.

Menelaus become the high priest (2 Macc 4:23-4:29)

“After a period of three years, Jason sent Menelaus, the brother of the previously mentioned Simon, to carry money to the king. He sent him to complete the records of essential business. But Menelaus, when presented to the king, extolled him with an air of authority. He secured the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver. After receiving the king’s orders he returned. He possessed no qualification for the high priesthood. He had the hot temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a savage wild beast. So Jason, who after supplanting his own brother, was supplanted by another man. He was driven as a fugitive into the land of Ammon. Menelaus held the office, but he did not pay regularly any of the money promised to the king. Sostratus, the captain of the citadel kept requesting payment, since the collection of the revenue was his responsibility. Two of them were summoned by the king on account of this issue. Menelaus left his own brother Lysimachus as deputy in the high priesthood, while Sostratus left Crates as the commander of the Cyprian troops.”

In 172 BCE, 3 years later, Jason the high priest and brother of Onias III sent Menelaus, a Benjaminite brother of Simon, the brother-in-law of Onias III, to King Antiochus IV with money on official business. However, this Menelaus decided that he was going to outbid Jason for the position of high priest by offering 300 talents of silver, about $180,000 USA. Although he was not qualified to be a high priest since he was not a Levite, the king gave him orders to become the high priest in Jerusalem. Obviously the position of high priest went to the highest bidder. Menelaus was cruel and full of rage. Jason was then driven into the land of Ammon, east of the Jordan River. Menelaus never kept his financial promise to the king, although he ruled as high priest for 10 years from 172-162 BCE. Meanwhile, Sostratus, the captain of the citadel troops was not getting any money. The king then called Sostratus and Menelaus to settle this money issue. In the meantime, Lysimachus, the brother of Menelaus, was the deputy high priest in Jerusalem, and Crates became the commander of the citadel troops.

Heliodorus comes to Jerusalem (2 Macc 3:9-3:12)

“When Heliodorus arrived at Jerusalem, he had been kindly welcomed by the high priest of the city. He told about the disclosure that had been made. He stated why he had come. He inquired whether this really was the situation. The high priest explained that there were some deposits belonging to widows and orphans. However, there also was some money of Hyrcanus son of Tobias, a man of with a very prominent position. This money totaled in all to four hundred talents of silver and two hundred talents of gold. To such an extent the impious Simon had misrepresented the facts. He said that it was utterly impossible that wrong should be done to those people who had trusted in the holiness of the place and in the sanctity and inviolability of the temple, which is honored throughout the whole world.”

When King Seleucus IV’s envoy, Heliodorus, arrived in Jerusalem, the high priest Onias III welcomed him. Heliodorus then got to the point of why he was there. He had come to look at the situation about the misuse of money in the Jerusalem Temple. The high priest assured him that the money there was for the widows and orphans. However, he did disclose that one man Hyrcanus had a huge sum of money there also, 400 talents of silver and 200 talents of gold, worth more than $133 million US dollars. No wonder they were concerned about this. The high priest Onias III said that Simon had misrepresented the facts because this was an honorable Temple known throughout the world. Who was this Hyrcanus? He actually was the half brother of Simon, so that Simon knew what was going on. Hyrcanus was pro-Egyptian and this was his way of avoiding the Syrian taxes.

The situation of this letter (2 Macc 1:7-1:9)

“In the reign of King Demetrius,

In the one hundred and sixty-ninth year,

We Jews wrote to you.

In the critical distress that came upon us,

In those years

After Jason and his company

Revolted from the holy land and the kingdom.

He burned the gate and shed innocent blood.

We prayed to the Lord.

We were heard.

We offered sacrifice and cereal offering.

We lighted the lamps.

We set out the loaves.

Now see that you keep the festival of booths

In the month of Chislev,

In the one hundred and eighty-eighth year.”

Here is the reason for the letter. They want the Jews in Egypt to celebrate the festival of Booths in 124 BCE in the month of Chislev, the 188th year. Apparently this is not the first letter since there is a reference to an earlier letter around 143 BCE, the 169th year mentioned here, when King Demetrius II was the Seleucid leader. All these calendar dates are from the beginning of this Seleucid Empire in 312 BCE. The distress was the capture and murder of Jonathan Apphus, the son of Mattathias in 143 BCE. Jason was the brother of the high priest Onias, who turned on the Maccabees. The destruction and shedding of innocent blood can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. However, under Simon, they were able to recover and rebuild the Temple. Thus they were asking the Jews in Egypt to celebrate with them the feast of Booths in Chislev. However, the normal time of festival of Tents or Booths, according to Leviticus, chapter 23, was in the 7th month, 1 week after the Day of Atonement. Clearly this work must have been written after 124 BCE.

Athenobius goes to Jerusalem to meet Simon (1 Macc 15:32-15:36)

“Athenobius, the king’s friend, came to Jerusalem. When he saw the splendor of Simon, and the sideboard with its gold and silver plate, and his great magnificence, he was amazed. He reported to him the words of the king, but Simon said to him in reply.

‘We have neither taken foreign land.

We have never seized foreign property.

We have only the inheritance of our ancestors.

This at one time had been unjustly taken by our enemies.

Now that we have the opportunity,

We are firmly holding the inheritance of our ancestors.

As for Joppa and Gazara,

Which you demand,

They were causing great damage among the people

And to our land.

For them,

We will give you a hundred talents.’

Athenobius did not answer him a word. He returned in wrath to the king. He reported to him these words, the splendor of Simon, and all that he had seen. The king was very angry.”

Athenobius, King Antiochus VII’s friend and envoy, was amazed at the splendor in Jerusalem with all the silver and gold. Then he went to Simon and repeated the words of the king in the preceding paragraph. Simon then responded that he had not taken any foreign land or property. All that he took was the inheritance of his ancestors that had been taken unjustly by their enemies. He was going to hold firm to the inheritance of his ancestors. As for Joppa and Gaza, they had caused great hardship on the Jewish people and the land. However, he was willing to pay 100 talents of silver, not the 500 or 1,000 that King Antiochus VII wanted. Athenobius did not say a word. He just returned to the king in an angry mood. When he reported this to the king, he too became very angry. I can see a problem brewing here.