The citation from Hosea about mercy (Mt 9:13-9:13)

“Go!

Learn what this means!

‘I desire mercy,

Not sacrifice!

I have come

Not to call the righteous,

But sinners.’”

 

πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς.

 

This response of Jesus is almost the same as in Mark, chapter 2:17, and Luke, chapter 5;31.  Jesus explained that they ought to learn what he means (πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε), because he desired mercy (τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω), and not sacrifices (καὶ οὐ θυσίαν).  This was based on Hosea, chapter 6:6, where the essential message was that Yahweh wanted real faithful love, not mere sacrifices.  Hosea wanted the Israelites to have real knowledge of God, rather than worry about burnt offerings.  Jesus had come not to call the people who were righteous already (γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους), but to call the sinners (ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς).

The Pharisees complain (Mt 9:11-9:11)

“When the Pharisees

Saw this,

They said

To his disciples.

‘Why does your teacher

Eat

With tax collectors

And sinners?’”

 

καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν;

 

This story about the Pharisees complaining about this dinner party is similar to Mark, chapter 2:16, and Luke, chapter 5:30, but here it is only the Pharisees speaking out, since there is no mention of scribes here, as in the other two stories.  These Pharisees saw this dinner party (καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) from the outside.  Then they asked the disciples of Jesus (ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ), and not Jesus himself, why was Jesus, their teacher (ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν), eating with tax collectors and sinners (Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει).  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament, engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  However, Paul the Apostle may have been a Pharisee before his conversion.  Maybe Jesus and some of his followers were Pharisees, so that these arguments with the Pharisees may have been internal arguments.  Or is this portrait of the Pharisees in the New Testament a caricature, since the late first century Christians were fighting with the emerging Rabbinic Pharisees?

The wider meaning of prophet

The term prophet had a wide meaning among the Israelites, since it also included people like Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.  That is why some so-called historical books are often called the early prophets.  Jewish traditions hold that there were 48 male prophets, and seven female prophets, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.  Others have recognized Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah as female prophets also.  Thus, there is a wide range of written prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.  The Hebrew prophetic dominant message was a return to Yahweh and his laws.  They were to protect the poor, the orphans, and the widows.  Justice and righteousness dominate in their messages.  Yahweh would judge them.  Although some Israelites were sinners, they would have a bright future if they turned from their evil ways to Yahweh.

The judgment due to our sins (Dan 3:5-3:7)

“You have executed

True judgments

In all

That you have brought

Upon us,

Upon Jerusalem,

The holy city

Of our ancestors.

By a true judgment,

You have brought

All this upon us

Because of our sins.

We have sinned.

We have broken

Your law,

In turning away

From you.

In all matters,

We have sinned grievously.

We have not obeyed

Your commandments.

We have not kept them.

We have not done

What you have commanded us

For our own good.”

Azariah continued with his prayer to God. God has executed his true judgments upon the Judeans and their ancestral holy city of Jerusalem, because of their sins. They were sinners. They broke his laws. They turned away from God. They have sinned grievously, by not obeying his commandments. They did not do what God had commanded them to do for their own good.

 

The conversion of the wicked ones (Ezek 33:14-33:16)

“Again,

Although I say

To the wicked!

‘You shall surely die!’

Yet if they turn

From their sin,

If they do

What is lawful,

What is right,

They shall surely live.

If the wicked ones restore

The pledge,

If they give back

What they have taken

By robbery,

They shall surely live.

If they walk

In the statutes of life,

If they commit no iniquity,

They shall surely live.

They shall not die.

None of the sins

That they have committed

Shall be remembered

Against them.

They have done

What is lawful.

They have done

What is right.

They shall surely live.”

This time, Yahweh turned to the wicked ones. They were going to die if they did not turn away from their sin. However, if they did what was lawful and right, they would surely live. If these wicked ones restored their debt pledges and gave back what they have stolen in their robberies, they would live. If they walked in the statutes of life, and did not commit any iniquity, they would live, not die. None of the sins that they had committed would be remembered against them. As long as they did what was lawful and right, they would surely live. There was hope for these wicked sinners.

The transgressions of the house of Israel (Ezek 33:10-33:10)

“Now You!

Son of man!

Say!

To the house of Israel!

Thus,

You have said!

‘Our transgressions,

Our sins,

Weigh upon us!

We waste away

Because of them.

How then can we live?’”

Yahweh has a convoluted message for Ezekiel, the son of man, for the house of Israel. The Israelites had said that they had committed sins and transgressions against Yahweh. These sins weighed on them, as they are wasting away. They even wondered how they could live. Yet, this is Ezekiel projecting what Yahweh said to him that the Israelites had said. This was a long way to get a simple message that they were sinners.

The dying Israelites (Bar 3:1-3:4)

“O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

The soul in anguish

Cries out to you!

The wearied spirit

Cries out to you!

Hear!

O Lord!

Have mercy!

We have sinned

Before you!

You are enthroned forever!

We are perishing forever!

O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

Hear now

The prayer

Of the people

Of Israel,

The children

Of those who sinned

Before you.

They did not heed

The voice

Of the Lord

Their God.

Thus calamities

Have clung to us.”

Baruch addressed God as the Lord Almighty, not simply Yahweh, the Lord, God of Israel. The anguished soul and the weary spirit cried out to God. Baruch wanted God to hear their cries and have mercy on them because they had sinned. The Lord Almighty was enthroned forever, while the Israelites were perishing forever because of their finitude. God should listen to the prayer of his people, the children of those who sinned. Their ancestors had not listened to the voice of God, so that their calamities have clung to them as fellow sinners who are the sons and daughters of sinners.