Mosaic law of taking a dead man’s wife (Lk 20:28-20:28)

“These Sadducees

Asked him a question.

‘Teacher!’

Moses wrote for us

That if a man’s brother dies,

Leaving a wife childless,

The man shall marry

The widow.

He will raise up children

For his brother.’”

 

λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν, ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ ἔχων γυναῖκα, καὶ οὗτος ἄτεκνος ᾖ, ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that these Sadducees asked Jesus a question (λέγοντες), respectfully calling him “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε)!”  They said that Moses wrote for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν) in Deuteronomy, chapter 25:5-10, that if a man’s brother dies (ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ), leaving a wife childless (ἔχων γυναῖκα, καὶ οὗτος ἄτεκνος ᾖ), that man should marry the widow (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα) to raise up children or seed for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer to use this word ἄτεκνος, that means childless.  Matthew, chapter 22:24, and Mark, chapter 12:19, are almost word for word as here in LukeMark said that these Sadducees addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).”  They quoted a Mosaic text that Moses had written for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν),  If a man’s brother should die (ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ) leaving behind a wife (καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα) without any children (καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον), his living brother should take his dead brother’s widow as his wife (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα).  He would then raise up the descendant children or seeds for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  Matthew indicated that these Sadducees also addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher” or “Rabbi (λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε).”  They quoted a Mosaic text, as Moses said (Μωϋσῆς εἶπεν).  If a man died without any children (Ἐάν τις ἀποθάνῃ μὴ ἔχων τέκνα), his brother should marry the widow (ἐπιγαμβρεύσει ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ).  He would then raise up the descendants for his brother (καὶ ἀναστήσει σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ).  This levirate law goes back as far as Tamar in Genesis, chapter 38:1-30, with the story of Judah’s 3 sons and Tamar, the original wife of Er.  The brother of the deceased was supposed to marry his brother’s widow if he had no sons.  The widow was not to marry outside her family.  It also assumes that the brother lived close by or in the same house as his brother.  There was no indication of whether the brother was married or not, but this seems to assume a younger brother.  This was an attempt to prolong the heritage and name of a person, which was common in ancient times.  The punishment for the brother’s refusal was an insult, rather than any physical punishment.  Would you marry the wife or husband or your dead brother or sister?

Lost brother is found (Lk 15:32-15:32)

“But we had

To celebrate

And rejoice

Because this brother

Of yours

Was dead.

He has come to life.

He was lost.

But he has been found.”

 

εὐφρανθῆναι δὲ καὶ χαρῆναι ἔδει, ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου οὗτος νεκρὸς ἦν καὶ ἔζησεν, καὶ ἀπολωλὼς καὶ εὑρέθη.

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  It finally comes to an end with Luke indicating that Jesus said that the father told his son that they were correct.  It was fitting to celebrate and rejoice (εὐφρανθῆναι δὲ καὶ χαρῆναι ἔδει), because his brother who had been dead (ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου οὗτος νεκρὸς ἦν), had now come to life (καὶ ἔζησεν).  He had been lost (καὶ ἀπολωλὼς), but now he has been found (καὶ εὑρέθη).  The dead brother, the sinning brother, had come to life.  The lost brother, like the lost sheep and the lost coin, has been found.  Therefore, let us rejoice and celebrate.  Do you celebrate over finding anything?

No party for the older brother (Lk 15:29-15:29)

“But he answered

His father.

‘Listen!

All these years

I have been working

Like a slave

For you.

I never disobeyed

Your command.

Yet you never given me

Even a young goat

So that

I might celebrate

With my friends.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ πατρὶ Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον, καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older son answered his father by saying (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ πατρὶ) that all these years he had been working like a slave or servant for his father (Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι).  He never disobeyed any of his commands (καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον).  Yet his father had never even given him a young goat (καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον) so that he could celebrate with his friends (ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ).  The older son was mad at his father because he had done everything right for many years, but he was never allowed to have any celebrations with his friends.  He had tried to do the right thing, but he was never rewarded for that.  Do you ever feel taken for granted because you always try to do what is right?

 

The older brother was angry (Lk 15:28-15:28)

“Then the older brother

Became angry.

He refused

To go in.

His father came out.

He began

To plead with him.”

 

ὠργίσθη δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν εἰσελθεῖν· ὁ δὲ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ἐξελθὼν παρεκάλει αὐτόν.

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older brother became angry (ὠργίσθη).  He refused to go in to the celebration (δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν εἰσελθεῖν).  His father came out of the celebration (ὁ δὲ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ἐξελθὼν).  He began to plead with him (παρεκάλει αὐτόν).  Now the conflict begins.  This seemed like such a nice happy story about a sinner who repented and was taken back by his father.  But now there was the other son who really did not want to go along with this plan.  He had been a hard-working farmer, while his brother went away carousing and wasting money.  Do you feel closer to the hard-working brother or the loose living brother?

Your brother has come home (Lk 15:27-15:27)

“The servant replied.

‘Your brother

Has come home.

Your father

Has killed

The fatted calf,

Because he

Got him back

Safe

And sound.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὅτι Ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἥκει, καὶ ἔθυσεν ὁ πατήρ σου τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτόν, ὅτι ὑγιαίνοντα αὐτὸν ἀπέλαβεν.

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the servant replied to the older son (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that his brother had come home (ὅτι Ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἥκει).  Then his father had killed or sacrificed (καὶ ἔθυσεν ὁ πατήρ σου) the fatted calf (τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτόν), because he had him back safe and sound in good health (ὅτι ὑγιαίνοντα αὐτὸν ἀπέλαβεν).  Once again, Luke is the only biblical writer who used this term σιτευτόν, that means fattened calf, 3 times in this story.  His father was happy to have his other son healthy and back with them.  He was just glad to see him.  Have you ever had a family relative show up unexpectedly?

What is going on? (Lk 15:26-15:26)

“The older son called

One of the servants.

He asked.

‘What is going on?’”

 

καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα τῶν παίδων ἐπυνθάνετο τί ἂν εἴη ταῦτα.

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older son called one of his male servants (καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα τῶν παίδων) and asked or inquired of him (ἐπυνθάνετο) what was going on (τί ἂν εἴη ταῦτα)?  This older hard-working son wanted to know what all the music, dancing, and celebrating was all about.  How come nobody told him what was going on?  Have you ever been confused about a celebration?”

The younger son squanders his property (Lk 15:13-15:13)

“A few days later,

The younger son

Gathered all he had.

He traveled

To a distant country.

There he squandered

His property

In dissolute living.”

 

καὶ μετ’ οὐ πολλὰς ἡμέρας συναγαγὼν πάντα ὁ νεώτερος υἱὸς ἀπεδήμησεν εἰς χώραν μακράν, καὶ ἐκεῖ διεσκόρπισεν τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ ζῶν ἀσώτως.

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that a few days later or not too many days later (καὶ μετ’ οὐ πολλὰς ἡμέρας), this younger son gathered all that he had (συναγαγὼν πάντα ὁ νεώτερος υἱὸς), without any indication of how much stuff he actually had.  He then traveled or went away to a distant country (ἀπεδήμησεν εἰς χώραν μακράν), since he did not stay close to home.  There he squandered his property in dissolute living (καὶ ἐκεῖ διεσκόρπισεν τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ ζῶν ἀσώτως).  Luke was the only biblical writer to use this term ἀσώτως that means prodigal or extravagantly wasteful, because of loose living in a debauched, profligate lifestyle.  Thus, this story came to be known as the prodigal son.  In other words, this young son took off for a Las Vegas kind of city in a faraway place.  There he spent his new-found inheritance very quickly in a number of stupid ways.  It is not clear how he was able to convert his inheritance property into cash, but presumably he did.  Have you ever thought about running away and spending a lot of money foolishly?