The brood of vipers (Mt 12:34-12:34)

“You brood of vipers!

How can you speak

Good things,

When you are evil?

Out of the abundance

Of the heart,

The mouth speaks.”

 

γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν πονηροὶ ὄντες; ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ.

 

This saying seems to be unique to Matthew.  Earlier in this work, he had John the Baptist call the Pharisees and Sadducees a blood of vipers or snakes in chapter 3:7.  In chapter 23:33, once again he referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as vipers or snakes.  Was he referring to the Pharisees here?  Jesus addressed these people as a brood or offspring of vipers or snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν).  How could they speak good things (πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν), when they were evil (πονηροὶ ὄντες)?  Their mouths spoke (τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ) out of the abundance or overflow of their hearts (ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας).  They could not fool anyone.  Their evil hearts showed up in their speech, even if they tried to be good.

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Jesus cures the blind and mute man (Mt 12:22-12:22)

“Then they brought to him

A demoniac

Who was blind

And mute.

Jesus cured him.

Thus,

The one who had been mute

Could speak

And see.”

 

Τότε προσηνέχθη αὐτῷ δαιμονιζόμενος τυφλὸς καὶ κωφός· καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτόν, ὥστε τὸν κωφὸν λαλεῖν καὶ βλέπειν.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 9:32-33, and Luke, chapter 11:14.  In the other texts, the man was only mute not blind.  Here they brought to Jesus, a man who was possessed by the devil (Τότε προσηνέχθη αὐτῷ δαιμονιζόμενος).  He was a mute or non-speaking demoniac and a blind person (τυφλὸς καὶ κωφός·).  Jesus then healed or cured him (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτόν).  There was no mention of casting out the demon from this man.  Then this mute and blind person began to speak (ὥστε τὸν κωφὸν λαλεῖν) and see (καὶ βλέπειν).  The emphasis in this story was on healing not on exorcising.

The servant of Yahweh (Matt 12:18-12:18)

“Here is my servant!

I have chosen him.

My beloved!

My soul is well pleased

With him.

I will put my Spirit

Upon him.

He shall proclaim justice

To the gentile nations.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου ὃν ᾑρέτισα, ὁ ἀγαπητός μου ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου· θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν, καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ.

 

A series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is in Isaiah, chapter 42:1.  Is it the country and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person?  Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic?  There are many chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah.  This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who he will uphold, since he is the chosen one.  Yahweh’s soul delights in him.  He puts his Spirit upon him.  This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice for all the nations.  At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes.  Mathew made a clear choice about this servant of Yahweh.  Jesus is the servant of God (Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου).  God has chosen him (ὃν ᾑρέτισα).  He is God’s beloved (ὁ ἀγαπητός μου).  The soul of God has delighted in Jesus (ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου).  God would put his Spirit on Jesus (θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  Jesus would proclaim a just judgment to the gentile nations (καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ).  The text that Matthew used is not an exact copy of the Greek or Hebrew text, but close enough.

Jesus asks questions about John (Mt 11:7-11:8)

“As the disciples of John

Went away,

Jesus began to speak

To the crowds

About John.

‘What did you go out

Into the wilderness

To look at?

Was he a reed

Shaken by the wind?’

Why then did you go out

To see him?

Was he a man

Dressed in fine clothes?

Look!

Those who wear fine clothes

Are in royal palaces.’”

 

Τούτων δὲ πορευομένων ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάνου Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;

ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον; ἰδοὺ οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν βασιλέων.

 

These question sayings are word for word like Luke, chapter 7:24-25, indicating a possible Q source.  As these disciples of John were leaving on their journey (Τούτων δὲ πορευομένων), Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John (ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάνου).  He asked them some questions.  Why did they go out into the wilderness to see John (Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι)?  Was he a reed shaking in the wind (κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον)?  Why did they go out to see him (ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν)?  Was he a man dressed in fine clothes or soft robes (ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον)?  Or course not, since fine clothes or soft robes can only be found in royal palaces (ἰδοὺ οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν βασιλέων).

Holy Spirit will speak through you (Mt 10:19-10:20)

“When they hand you over,

Do not worry

About how you are to speak

Or what you are to say.

What you are to say

Will be given to you

At that time.

It is not you

Who speaks,

But the Spirit

Of your Father

Speaking through you.”

 

ὅταν δὲ παραδῶσιν ὑμᾶς, μὴ μεριμνήσητε πῶς ἢ τί λαλήσητε· δοθήσεται γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ τί λαλήσητε·

οὐ γὰρ ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ λαλοῦντες ἀλλὰ τὸ Πνεῦμα τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν τὸ λαλοῦν ἐν ὑμῖν.

 

Equivalent passages to this can be found in Mark, chapter 13:11, and Luke, chapter 12:11.  Jesus told his disciples not to worry or be anxious (μὴ μεριμνήσητε), when they were handed over (ὅταν δὲ παραδῶσιν ὑμᾶς) to these courts or tribunals.  They should not worry about how or what they should say (πῶς ἢ τί λαλήσητε).  It will be given to them (δοθήσεται γὰρ ὑμῖν) in that hour at that time (ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ) what they should say (τί λαλήσητε).  They would not be speaking (οὐ γὰρ ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ λαλοῦντες), but the Spirit of their Father would be speaking through them (ἀλλὰ τὸ Πνεῦμα τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν τὸ λαλοῦν ἐν ὑμῖν).  In other words, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father, would speak for them and through them, so that they did not have to worry or prepare anything beforehand.

The demoniacs call Jesus the Son of God (Mt 8:29-8:29)

“The demoniacs shouted out.

‘What have you to do

With us?

O Son of God!

Have you come here

To torment us

Before the time?’”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔκραξαν λέγοντες Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ; ἦλθες ὧδε πρὸ καιροῦ βασανίσαι ἡμᾶς;

 

All three synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 5:7 and Luke, chapter 8;28, and Matthew here, have these demoniacs speak to Jesus in somewhat similar words.  They cried or shouted out (καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔκραξαν λέγοντες).  They wanted to know why the Son of God (Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ) had come to torment them (ἦλθες ὧδε…βασανίσαι ἡμᾶς), since the time (πρὸ καιροῦ) of the final judgment day had not arrived.  All three gospel writers have the demonic person or persons recognize that Jesus was the Son of God, not just another faith healer.  They maintained that the time of their torment or the end times had not yet arrived.  Thus, the evil spirits were able to recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

The great faith of the centurion (Mt 8:10-8:10)

“When Jesus heard

The centurion,

He was amazed.

He said to those

Who followed him.

‘Truly,

I say to you!

In no one in Israel

Have I found

Such a great faith.’”

 

ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐθαύμασεν καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς ἀκολουθοῦσιν Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, παρ’ οὐδενὶ τοσαύτην πίστιν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ εὗρον.

 

This response of Jesus to the centurion was exactly the same as in Luke, chapter 7:9, perhaps indicating a Q source.  When Jesus heard the response (ἀκούσας δὲ) of this centurion, he marveled, wondered, admired, or was amazed (ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐθαύμασεν).  He then turned to speak to his followers (καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς ἀκολουθοῦσιν) with a solemn pronouncement (Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  He had not found anyone in Israel with so great of faith (παρ’ οὐδενὶ τοσαύτην πίστιν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ εὗρον) like this Roman, non-Jewish, centurion.  His great belief, faith, and trust in the power of Jesus would be demanded of all the Jesus followers.