Sit at the table (Lk 17:7-17:7)

“Who among you

Would say

To your slave,

Who had just come in

From plowing

Or tending sheep

In the field.

‘Come here at once!

Take your place

At the table’?”

 

Τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν δοῦλον ἔχων ἀροτριῶντα ἢ ποιμαίνοντα, ὃς εἰσελθόντι ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ ἐρεῖ αὐτῷ Εὐθέως παρελθὼν ἀνάπεσε,

 

Once again, Luke uniquely has a saying of Jesus that is not in the other synoptic gospels.  Jesus asked who among them would say to their slave (Τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν δοῦλον), who had just come in from the field (ὃς εἰσελθόντι ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ), after plowing (ἔχων ἀροτριῶντα) or tending the sheep (ἢ ποιμαίνοντα), to immediately take his place reclining at the table with them (ἐρεῖ αὐτῷ Εὐθέως παρελθὼν ἀνάπεσε).  Obviously, slavery was considered okay.  Slaves were in a separate category from the land owners.  No one would invite his slave to share a meal with them.  Does that sound harsh to you?

Divided kingdom (Lk 11:17-11:17)

“But Jesus knew

What they were thinking.

He said to them.

‘Every kingdom

Divided against itself

Becomes desolate.

One house falls

On another house.”

 

αὐτὸς δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὰ διανοήματα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πᾶσα βασιλεία ἐφ’ ἑαυτὴν διαμερισθεῖσα ἐρημοῦται, καὶ οἶκος ἐπὶ οἶκον πίπτει.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus knew what they were thinking (αὐτὸς δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὰ διανοήματα).  He said to them (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that every kingdom (Πᾶσα βασιλεία) divided against itself (ἐφ’ ἑαυτὴν διαμερισθεῖσα) becomes desolate (ἐρημοῦται).  One house falls against another house (καὶ οἶκος ἐπὶ οἶκον πίπτει).  There were similar statements in Mark, chapter 3:24-25, and Matthew, chapter 12:25.  Mark indicated that Jesus responded to the Scribes with his house divided remarks.  Jesus said to them that if a kingdom was divided against itself, that kingdom would not be able to stand.  If a house was divided against itself that house would not be able to endure.  This was one of President Abraham Lincoln’s (1809-1865) favorite biblical passages about slavery.  Matthew said that Jesus knew what the inner thoughts of the Pharisees were, so that he said to them that every kingdom divided against itself would be destroyed.  No city or house divided against itself could endure for a long time.  This was a very strong argument against Jesus and Beelzebul working together.  What do you think the relationship of Jesus to the devil is?

The house divided (Mk 3:24-3:25)

“If a kingdom

Is divided

Against itself,

That kingdom will not

Be able to stand.

If a house is divided

Against itself,

That house will not be able

To stand.”

 

καὶ ἐὰν βασιλεία ἐφ’ ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ, οὐ δύναται σταθῆναι ἡ βασιλεία ἐκείνη·

καὶ ἐὰν οἰκία ἐφ’ ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ, οὐ δυνήσεται ἡ οἰκία ἐκείνη στῆναι.

 

There are similar statements to this in Matthew, chapter 12:25, and Luke, chapter 11:17.  Mark indicated that Jesus responded to the Scribes with his house divided remarks.  Jesus said to them that if a kingdom was divided against itself (καὶ ἐὰν βασιλεία ἐφ’ ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ), that kingdom would not be able to stand (οὐ δύναται σταθῆναι ἡ βασιλεία ἐκείνη).  If a house was divided against itself (καὶ ἐὰν οἰκία ἐφ’ ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ), that house would not be able to stand or endure (οὐ δυνήσεται ἡ οἰκία ἐκείνη στῆναι).  This was one of President Abraham Lincoln’s (1809-1865) favorite biblical passages about slavery.

The divided kingdom (Mt 12:25-12:27)

“Jesus knew

What they were thinking.

He said to them.

‘Every kingdom divided

Against itself is

Laid waste.

No city

Or house divided against itself

Will stand.

If Satan casts out Satan,

He is divided against himself.

How then will his kingdom stand?

If I cast out demons

By Beelzebul,

By whom

Do your own sons

Cast them out?

Therefore,

They will be your judges.”

 

εἰδὼς δὲ τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πᾶσα βασιλεία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς ἐρημοῦται, καὶ πᾶσα πόλις ἢ οἰκία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς οὐ σταθήσεται.

καὶ εἰ ὁ Σατανᾶς τὸν Σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλει, ἐφ’ ἑαυτὸν ἐμερίσθη· πῶς οὖν σταθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ;

καὶ εἰ ἐγὼ ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ ἐκβάλλω τὰ δαιμόνια, οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν ἐν τίνι ἐκβάλλουσιν; διὰ τοῦτο αὐτοὶ κριταὶ ἔσονται ὑμῶν.

 

There are similar statements to this in Mark, chapter 3:23-26, and Luke, chapter 11:17-19.  Jesus responded to the Pharisees with his house divided remarks.  Jesus knew what the inner thoughts of the Pharisees were (εἰδὼς δὲ τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν).  He said to them that every kingdom divided against itself would be destroyed (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πᾶσα βασιλεία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς ἐρημοῦται).  No city or house divided against itself could endure (καὶ πᾶσα πόλις ἢ οἰκία μερισθεῖσα καθ’ ἑαυτῆς οὐ σταθήσεται.).  This was one of President Abraham Lincoln’s (1809-1865) favorite biblical passages about slavery.  If Satan casts out Satan (καὶ εἰ ὁ Σατανᾶς τὸν Σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλει), then he was divided against himself (ἐφ’ ἑαυτὸν ἐμερίσθη).  How can his kingdom last (πῶς οὖν σταθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ)?  If Jesus was casting out demons by Beelzebul (καὶ εἰ ἐγὼ ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ ἐκβάλλω τὰ δαιμόνια,), how were their own sons or other exorcists able to cast out demons (οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν ἐν τίνι ἐκβάλλουσιν)?  Therefore, their own sons would be their judges (διὰ τοῦτο αὐτοὶ κριταὶ ἔσονται ὑμῶν).  This was a very strong argument against Jesus and Beelzebul working together.

The Redemption Context

African Christians put emphasis on creation and deliverance from hardship, while European Christians put emphasis on sin and salvation.  These differences show up in death rituals and funerals.  The early Church suffered political persecution.  Freedom from slavery saw redemption as the main form of freedom.  The early Medieval Church (4th-11th centuries) was more concerned about freedom from the power of the devil after Augustine had emphasized the concept of original sin.  The early Scholastic theologians like Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) put less emphasis on the ransom from the devil.  Adam had disobeyed and dishonored God.  Christ has saved us by being the second Adam, the so-called satisfaction theory.  Order and honor were more important.  The Third world today sees redemption as something else.  Christian redemption is the same reality, but there are different interpretations of what it means to be redeemed.

Plural Model of Salvation

Jesus may not be the only Savior.  We can learn from other religions.  New is not wrong, just like the ideas of slavery have changed.  This psychology of faith says we have to follow the example of Jesus, really experience the presence of God in Jesus.  The Christian mission to teach all remains, but Christianity is not the final or superior religion.  Christianity is the best good news, not the only good news.  We appreciate all colors, but those in love say that the most beautiful woman in the world is the women that that they love.

Yahweh recalls his saving action from Egypt (Mic 6:3-6:4)

“O my people!

What have I done

To you?

In what have I wearied you?

Answer me!

I brought you up

From the land of Egypt.

I redeemed you

From the house of slavery.

I sent before you

Moses,

Aaron,

Miriam.”

Yahweh, via Micah, recalled his saving action from Egypt.  He had saved his people, Israel from slavery.  He had done so much for the Israelites.  He wanted them to remember that he had weaned them as a new country.  He had sent 3 great leaders like Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, all from one family in Egypt.

Yahweh’s six year slavery commandment (Jer 34:12-34:14)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh.

‘Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

I myself

Made a covenant

With your ancestors

When I brought them

Out of the land of Egypt,

Out of the house of slavery,

Saying.

‘Every seventh year,

Each of you

Must set free

Any Hebrews

Who has been sold to you.

If they served you six years,

You must set them free

From your service.’

But your ancestors

Did not listen to me.

They did not incline

Their ears to me.’”

Once again the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, but this time it was to present Yahweh’s views on slavery. Yahweh had already made a covenant with their ancestors on this subject when he brought them out of slavery in Egypt. Yahweh’s commandment was to have only 6 years of slavery. Any purchased Hebrew slave should be let go on the 7th year. Like much else, their ancestors did not listen to Yahweh and his commands. Instead, they did what they wanted to do.

The freeing of the Hebrew Judean slaves (Jer 34:9-34:10)

“All should set free

Their Hebrew slaves,

Both male and female.

Thus no one should hold

Another Judean

In slavery.

All the officials,

With all the people

Obeyed this.

They had entered

Into the covenant

That all would

Set their slaves free,

Both male and female.

Thus they would not be

Enslaved again.

They obeyed.

They set them free.”

The proclamation of liberty said that everyone should set free both their male and female Hebrew slaves in Jerusalem. Thus there should not be any Judeans who were in slavery. All the officials and the people agreed to this and obeyed it. Thus all the Hebrew or Judean slaves were set free. This was probably done to help with the defense efforts of the city against the Babylonians. Why would you fight against invaders if you were already a slave?

The treatment of slaves (Sir 33:24-33:29)

“Fodder is for a donkey.

A stick is for a donkey.

A burden is for a donkey.

Bread is for a slave.

Discipline is for a slave.

Work is for a slave.

Set your slave to work.

You will find rest.

If you leave his hands idle,

He will seek liberty.

A yoke will bow his neck.

A thong will bow his neck.

A wicked servant should have

Rack and tortures.

Put him to work.

Thus he may not be idle.

Idleness teaches much evil.

Set him to work,

As is fitting for him.

If he does not obey,

Make his fetters heavy.

Do not be overbearing

Toward anybody.

Do nothing unjust.”

Sirach accepts slavery as a fact of life, not to be disputed. This was a common biblical theme, so that the slave owners who cited the Bible could not be faulted. Slaves were slaves, so what? There was no sense of the idea of an equal fellow human being. In fact, it was clear that they should work hard as there was a comparison of a slave to a donkey. Just as the donkey was fed, whipped, and burdened, so too the slave should be fed with bread, disciplined, and worked hard. If your slave worked hard, you could get some restful idleness time for yourself. You should put a yoke and thong around your slave’s neck. If he was bad, you could beat him up. The slave should never be idle because that would lead to evil and his possible escape. If the slave did not obey, he should be punished. However, there was a limit to this brutality. You should not be overbearing or unjust. Of course, it was your decision to evaluate the situation.