Joseph goes to Bethlehem (Lk 2:4-2:4)

“Joseph also went

From the town

Of Nazareth,

In Galilee,

To Judea.

He went

To the city

Of David,

Called Bethlehem,

Because he was

Descended

From the house

And family

Of David.”

 

Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρὲθ εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν εἰς πόλιν Δαυεὶδ ἥτις καλεῖται Βηθλεέμ, διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐξ οἴκου καὶ πατριᾶς Δαυείδ,

 

Luke clearly indicated why Joseph went (Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ) from the town of Nazareth, in Galilee (ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρὲθ), to Judea (εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν).  He went to the city of David (εἰς πόλιν Δαυεὶδ), that is called Bethlehem (ἥτις καλεῖται Βηθλεέμ), because he was descended from the house (διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐξ οἴκου) and family of David (καὶ πατριᾶς Δαυείδ).  Luke never mentioned King Herod like Matthew, chapter 2:1.  However, both Matthew and Luke agreed on the place of Bethlehem, in the territory of Judah, about 5-6 miles south of Jerusalem, with a current population of about 25,000 in present day Palestinian territory.  They also both agreed that Joseph was a descendant of King David, from Bethlehem.  Matthew had first mentioned Joseph in chapter 1:27 as the engaged partner of Mary.  The Messiah had been predicted to be from Bethlehem as in Micah, chapter 5:2.  Matthew, chapter 2:5-6, had the Jewish priests and scribes tell King Herod that the place for the birth of this new king had to be Bethlehem in Judea.  The prophet Micah, had written this ode about the small town of Bethlehem, where King David came from.  Obviously, this new ruler of Israel would be from this same place and be also part of the Davidic bloodline.  Matthew and Luke made the clear connection between David, Bethlehem, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.  However, Luke, unlike Matthew had very little information about Joseph.

Advertisements

Better blind than eternal fire (Mt 18:9-18:9)

“If your eye

Causes you

To sin

Or stumble,

Take it out!

Throw it away!

It is better for you

To enter life

With one eye

Than with two eyes

To be thrown into

The fire of hell.”

 

καὶ εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· καλόν σοί ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός.

 

This saying about it being better to be blind in one eye can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:47, word for word.  This warning is almost the same as the warning about the stumbling hand and foot.  Jesus then spoke about the problem of wandering eyes.  If your eye causes you to stumble or sin (καὶ εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζει σε), take it out, gouge it out, or pluck it out (ἔξελε αὐτὸν)!  Throw it away (καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ·)!  It would be better for you to enter life blind in one eye or one eyed (καλόν σοί ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν) than to have two eyes (ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς) but thrown into the eternal fire (ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός).  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block or snare was, get rid of it, even if it is your eye.  Notice that here they are not sent to the eternal fires as in the preceding verses, but to the fires of Gehenna “γέενναν.”  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.  You were better off with one eye and a whole body than being in these hell fires.

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.

Jerusalem will remain (Zech 14:10-14:11)

“The whole land

Shall be turned

Into a plain

From Geba

To Rimmon,

South of Jerusalem.

But Jerusalem shall remain aloft

On its site,

From the Gate of Benjamin

To the place

Of the former gate,

To the Corner Gate.

It will remain

From the Tower of Hananel

To the king’s wine presses.

It shall be inhabited.

Never again shall it be doomed

To destruction.

Jerusalem shall abide in security.”

Although the whole land south of Jerusalem from Geba to Rimmon would be turned into a plain, Jerusalem would remain aloft from the fray, tall and strong.  Geba would be the northern boundary of Judah, about 5 miles north of Jerusalem, but actually in Benjamin.  Rimmon was the southernmost town in Judah, in the old Simeon territory, about 13 miles south of Hebron.  Jerusalem would be safe from its norther Gate of Benjamin to the wines presses in the southern part of the city.  Never again would Jerusalem be destroyed, because it would live in security.

The ode to Bethlehem (Mic 5:2-5:2)

“But you!

O Bethlehem of Ephrathah!

You are one of the little clans

Of Judah.

From you,

Shall come forth

For me

One who is

To rule in Israel.

His origin is from of old,

From ancient days.”

This is a very complicated passage that was used by the New Testament gospels of Matthew, chapter 2, and John, chapter 7, as a prediction of where the Messiah would be born.  Micah directed this ode directly to Bethlehem, a town about 6 miles south of Jerusalem.  The ancient name was apparently Ephrathah, similar to the name of the territory of Ephraim, but a small clan of people.  King David was from this small town of Bethlehem.  Thus, this new ruler of Israel would be from this same place or part of the Davidic bloodline.  There is confusion about the little phrase “from me.”  Was this new ruler to be from God or Bethlehem?  Would he be like the ancient good old days of David?

Your sister Sodom (Ezek 16:48-16:50)

“As I live,

Says Yahweh God.

‘Your sister Sodom,

With her daughters,

Has not done

As you

With your daughters

Have done.

This was the guilt

Of your sister Sodom.

She,

With her daughters,

Had pride,

Excess of food,

A prosperous ease.

But they did not

Aid the poor.

They did not

Aid the needy.

They were haughty.

They did abominable things

Before me.

Therefore I removed them,

When I saw it.”

The story of Sodom was based on Genesis, chapter 19.   Sodom was a city in the plains, south of Jerusalem, near the Dead Sea. Jerusalem was like the city of Sodom because Jerusalem had done the same things as they had done. Sodom with her daughters was guilty of pride, too much food, and too easy of a life style. Sodom did not aid the poor and the needy. There was no explanation here of all the abominable things mentioned in Genesis. However, Yahweh had removed them. He had destroyed them, when he found out about their behavior.