The better portion (Lk 10:42-10:42)

“There is need

Of only one thing.

Mary has chosen

The better part.

It will not be

Taken away

From her.”

 

ὀλίγων δέ ἐστιν χρεία ἢ ἑνός· Μαριὰμ γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο, ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus said that there was need of only one thing (ὀλίγων δέ ἐστιν χρεία ἢ ἑνός).  Mary had chosen the better part (Μαριὰμ γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο), in listening.  This would not be taken away from her (ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς).  Jesus was clear, being a listening disciple was better than running around serving people.  Listening was important.  Household duties can wait.  Martha, the welcoming lady, lost out to her listening sister, Mary.  Quit complaining.  Just do the work and listen to Jesus.  Do you prefer to work or listen?

Mary (Lk 10:39-10:39)

“Martha had a sister

Named Mary.

She sat

At the Lord’s feet.

Mary listened

To what Jesus

Was saying.”

 

καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαριάμ, ἣ καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ Κυρίου ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke uniquely said that Martha had a sister (καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ) called Mary (καλουμένη Μαριάμ).  There were many women called Mary in the gospel stories.  This Mary sat down at the Lord’s feet (καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ Κυρίου) and listened to his words (ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ).  This was a common position for the disciples to take.  It also was common for women to sit at the feet of men to listen to them.  Was she a disciple of Jesus?  Notice that Jesus was called the Lord (Κυρίου), not Jesus.  Certainly, this Mary was very attuned to the teaching of Jesus.  Are you willing to listen to the teaching of Jesus?

Mary Magdalene goes to anoint Jesus (Mk 16:1-16:1)

“When the Sabbath

Was over,

Mary Magdalene,

And Mary,

The mother of James,

As well as Salome,

Brought spices,

So that they might go

And anoint him.”

 

Καὶ διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ Σαλώμη ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα ἵνα ἐλθοῦσαι ἀλείψωσιν αὐτόν.

 

There is no confusion about the day of the week when the empty tomb was first found.  All 4 gospel stories have it take place after the Sabbath.  Thus, this would have been the 3rd day since the death of Jesus on Friday.  Luke, chapter 23:56-24:1, said that it was the women from Galilee who brought spices to anoint the body, but he did not mention Mary Magdalene.  John, chapter 20:1, said that it was Mary Magdalene alone who came to the tomb.  Matthew, chapter 28:1 had Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb on the first day of the week.  In all these stories, there was either one or more women, no men, who came to the tomb.  Mark mentioned 3 women.  Mark said that when the Sabbath was over (Καὶ διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου), Mary Magdalene (Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ) and the other Mary (καὶ Μαρία), the mother of James (ἡ τοῦ Ἰακώβου), as well as Salome (καὶ Σαλώμη) probably the mother of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, came to the tomb.  This Salome may have been a sister of half-sister of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  These women brought spices (ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα), so that they might go and anoint Jesus (ἵνα ἐλθοῦσαι ἀλείψωσιν αὐτόν).  The idea of visiting a tomb or grave site would not have been out of the question, since this was a common practice.

Anger and insults (Mt 5:22-5:22)

“But I say to you!

That everyone angry

With his brother

Shall be liable

To judgment.

Whoever insults

His brother

By calling him

Empty-headed

Without brains

Shall be liable

To the Sanhedrin council.

Whoever says.

‘You impious fool!’

Shall be liable

To the hell of fire.”

 

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ Ῥακά, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ Μωρέ, ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός.

 

Matthew once again showed the importance of this saying of Jesus with “But I say or tell you (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν)!” This time it is about anger and insults. Anyone who was angry with his brother would be liable to the local Jewish council judgment (ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει). If he insulted his brother, by calling him, an empty head without brains (ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ Ῥακά), he was liable to the Jerusalem Sanhedrin Council (ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ). Calling someone a “Ῥακά” was a worse crime than a mere insult. If he called his brother an insensitive non-religious or impious fool (ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ Μωρέ), the punishment for this outrageous insult would be to be thrown into to the fiery hell (ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός). The Greek term “Μωρέ” developed into the English term moron. The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place. There seemed to be 3 stages of punishment, depending on what they had said to their brother. Insulting them was bad. Calling them empty-headed was worse. But worst of all was calling them an insensitive non-religious fool. Be careful what you say to your brother or sister.

The names are reversed (Hos 2:1-2:1)

“Say to your brother!

‘Ammi!”

My people!

Say to your sister!

‘Ruhamah!

Pity!”

In a play on words, the Hebrew text drops the “Lo” or “not” in front of the names of the brother and sister. Lo-ammi has become Ammi. Lo-ruhamah has become Ruhamah. Jezreel remained the same. Thus, the brother and sister now represent pity, love, and my people, instead of the negative connotation, as in the first chapter. Now, all is well.

King Cyrus (Dan 14:1-14:1)

“When King Astyages

Was laid to rest

With his ancestors,

Cyrus the Persian

Succeeded to his kingdom.”

This last chapter of the Book of Daniel is often referred to as the story of Bel, the god, and the dragon. Daniel will show how each one was useless. Once again, this chapter is only in the Greek Septuagint, so that it is often called apocryphal. This story takes place at the later part of the life of Daniel, since Cyrus the Persian (598-530 BCE) was the King. His rule in Persia began in 559 BCE and lasted about 30 years. Here, he is still only the king of Persia that he received from his father, King Astyages (585-550 BCE). The sister of King Astyages was the wife of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Thus, you can see the connection, as Cyprus would have been the nephew of the Babylonian king. Eventually, Cyrus took over Babylon in 539 BCE.

Remember the covenant (Ezek 16:61-16:63)

“‘Then you will remember

Your ways.

You will be ashamed

When I take

Your sisters,

Both your elder

As well as your younger.

I will give them

To you

As daughters,

But not on account

Of my covenant

With you.

I will establish

My covenant

With you.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh.

Thus you may remember.

Thus you may be confounded.

Never open

Your mouth again

Because of your shame!

I will forgive you

All that you have done.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh told Jerusalem that she would remember her wicked ways. She should be ashamed. Yahweh was going to give her younger and older sister, Samaria and Sodom, as daughters to her, but not because of a covenant. Yahweh was going to establish his covenant with Jerusalem. She would know that he was Yahweh. She would remember that and be confounded. Jerusalem was never again to open her mouth because of her shame. Yahweh was going to forgive her for all that she had done.