The angel at the tomb (Mt 28:2-28:3)

“An angel

Of the Lord

Descended from heaven.

He came.

He rolled back

The stone.

He sat upon it.

His appearance was

Like lightning.

His clothing

Was as white

As snow.”

 

ἄγγελος γὰρ Κυρίου καταβὰς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ προσελθὼν ἀπεκύλισεν τὸν λίθον καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ.

ἦν δὲ ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ, καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών.

Matthew is the only one to explicitly describe the actions and the angel at the tomb.  In Mark, chapter 16:5, the women found a young man with a white robe sitting in the tomb, while in Luke, chapter 24:4, there were 2 men in dazzling clothes standing in the tomb.  John, chapter 20:11-13, had 2 angels talk to Mary Magdalene in the tomb.  Matthew uniquely said that an angel of the Lord (ἄγγελος γὰρ Κυρίου) descended from heaven (καταβὰς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ).  He came and rolled back the stone (καὶ προσελθὼν ἀπεκύλισεν τὸν λίθον), so that he was sitting on this stone (καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ).  He looked like a bright flash of lightning (ἦν δὲ ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ) because his clothing was as white as snow (καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών).  Once again, Matthew was more dramatic in his descriptions.

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The wonderful Jerusalem princes (Lam 4:7-4:7)

Zayin

“The princes of Jerusalem

Were purer

Than snow.

They were whiter

Than milk.

Their bodies were

More ruddy

Than coral.

Their hair was

Like sapphire.”

This author paints a glowing picture of the princes of Jerusalem. They were purer than snow and whiter than milk. They had a ruddy coral like body. Their hair was like a sapphire jewel. These were good looking dudes. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Zayin in this acrostic poem.

Israel forgot Yahweh (Jer 18:13-18:17)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh.

‘Ask among the nations?

Who has heard the like of this?

The virgin Israel has done

A very horrible thing.

Does the snow of Lebanon

Leave the crags of Sirion?

Do the mountain waters run dry?

Do the cold flowing streams stop?

But my people have forgotten me.

They burn incense to a delusion.

They have stumbled in their ways,

On the ancient roads.

They have gone into bypaths.

They have not gone on the highway.

They are making their land a horror.

This is a thing to be hissed at forever.

Everyone who passes by it

Is horrified.

They shake their heads.

Like the east wind,

I will scatter them

Before the enemy.

I will show them my back.

I will not show them my face,

In the day of their calamity.’”

Yahweh wants to know why the Israelites have forgotten him. This virgin Israel has done a horrible thing. He asks whether the snow leaves the mountains of Lebanon at Mount Hermon. Sirion is another name for Mount Hermon. Do the mountain waters dry up? Do the cold streams disappear? Do these sources for the Jordan River stop? Of course not, yet Yahweh’s people have forgotten him. They have turned to offering incense to false delusionary idol gods. They were stumbling along. They have gone off the main highways into the side roads. Their land has become horrible. People shake their heads and hiss as they pass by. Thus Yahweh was going to be like a wind from the east and scatter them to their enemies. When the day of troubles would begin, he would show them his back and not his face.

The efficacy of the word of Yahweh (Isa 55:10-55:11)

“As the rain

Comes down from heaven,

As the snow

Comes down from heaven,

They do not return there

Until they have watered the earth.

They make it come forth.

They make it sprout.

They give seed to the sower.

They give bread to the eater.

Thus shall my word

Go out from my mouth.

It shall not return to me empty.

But it shall accomplish

That which I purpose.

It will succeed

In the thing

For which I sent it.”

Second Isaiah emphasizes the importance of the word of Yahweh. Water and snow do not return empty handed to heaven. Apparently, these biblical writers were aware of osmosis. The water and the snow helped bring about germination of the sprouts from the ground. They made the seeds of the sower grow. They assisted in making bread for humans to eat. So too, the word of Yahweh will not come back empty either. His words must accomplish their purpose. His word will be successful in making things grow.

Forgiveness (Isa 1:18-1:18)

“Yahweh says.

‘Come now!

Let us argue it out!

Even though your sins are

Like scarlet,

They shall be

Like snow.

Even though they are red

Like crimson,

They shall become

Like wool.’”

It is difficult to tell whether this is a new Yahweh oracle of Isaiah, but it is a new theme, forgiveness. The case in favor of forgiveness must be presented, discussed, and argued out like a law case. Even though your sins were a scarlet wicked color, they could become pure white like snow. Even these crimson red sins could become like lamb’s white wool. Thus there was a path to forgiveness.

The wonders of weather (Sir 43:13-43:17)

“By the Lord’s command,

He sends the driving snow.

He speeds the lightning

Of his judgment.

Therefore the storehouses

Are opened.

The clouds fly out

Like birds.

In his majesty,

He gives the clouds

Their strength.

The hailstones

Are broken in pieces.

The voice of his thunder

Rebukes the earth.

When he appears,

The mountains shake.

At his will,

The south wind blows.”

Sirach, like many of the ancient people, including the Israelites, believed that God completely controlled the weather. In fact, we still have some farming communities that pray to God for rain. Today’s TV weather forecast would be that God is sending us rain and a cool temperature, with nothing about a cold front. God’s command sent snow and lightning. The storehouses in the clouds would be opened up by the Lord to let rain, snow, and hailstones fall to earth like birds tumbling out of the sky. Thus precipitation from the sky was like the thunderous voice of God that shock up the mountains. The Lord was also responsible for the south mild winds also.