Jerusalem surrounded (Lk 21:20-21:20)

“When you see Jerusalem

Surrounded

By army camps,

Then know

That its desolation

Has come near.”

 

Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἱερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that when they would see Jerusalem (Ἱερουσαλήμ) surrounded by military army camps (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων), then they should know (τότε γνῶτε) that its desolation was near (ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer that used the word στρατοπέδων that meant a military camp, an army, or an encamped army.  Perhaps, this was a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:15, and in Mark, chapter 13:14.  Mark said that Jesus warned them that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing or set up in the place where it should not be (ἑστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ), those reading this should understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Matthew indicated that Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Only Matthew explicitly and specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple.  In 175 BCE, the prince, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to destroy the high priest Onias III, and the city of Jerusalem with its sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During that time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple.  Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols.  Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological, about the end times, as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly two centuries earlier.  Have you ever seen a religious shrine or church destroyed?

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Increase our faith (Lk 17:5-17:5)

“The apostles said

To the Lord.

‘Increase our faith!’”

 

Καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι τῷ Κυρίῳ Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that the apostles asked the Lord (Καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι τῷ Κυρίῳ) to add or increase their faith (Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν).  Notice that Jesus was called the Lord (Κυρίῳ) here.  Although there are other instances of people having a lack of faith or a strong faith, quite often they were around being healed by Jesus.  This saying was the only instance of the apostles, not merely the disciples, or other followers of Jesus, where they specifically wished to increase or add to their belief.  Do you want to increase your faith?

Who do they say that I am? (Lk 9:18-9:18)

“Once when Jesus

Was praying alone,

With only the disciples

Near him,

He asked them.

‘Who do the crowds

Say that I am?’”

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν προσευχόμενον κατὰ μόνας συνῆσαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί, καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτοὺς λέγων Τίνα με οἱ ὄχλοι λέγουσιν εἶναι;

 

Luke said that one time when Jesus was praying alone (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν προσευχόμενον κατὰ μόνας), with only the disciples near him (συνῆσαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί,), he questioned them (καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτοὺς λέγων) about who did the crowds say that he was (Τίνα με οἱ ὄχλοι λέγουσιν εἶναι)?  This question about who Jesus is can be found in Matthew, chapter 16:13, and Mark, chapter 8:27, as well as here, but there are major differences.  Here in Luke, he was not traveling in Caesarea Philippi, as he was in Mark and Matthew, but all alone with his disciples praying.  Mark said that Jesus was with his disciples on his way towards the village of Caesarea Philippi, an ancient gentile Roman city, about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee at the southeastern base of Mount Hermon, where there was a shrine to the Greek god Pan, in today’s Golan Heights.  Jesus then asked his closest disciples who they thought that he was.  In Matthew, Jesus asked them about the Son of Man, but not specifically himself.  In Matthew, Jesus asked or questioned his disciples who did people think the Son of Man was?  Jesus wanted to know what the people were thinking about him, so he asked his disciples their opinion.   Who do you think that Jesus is?

The symbolic history of Jerusalem (Ezek 16:1-16:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Make known

To Jerusalem

Her abominations!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God

To Jerusalem.

Your origin,

Your birth

Were in the land

Of the Canaanites.

Your father was

An Amorite.

Your mother was

A Hittite.’”

Once again, Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This time, it was about the origins and symbolic history of Jerusalem. The context was a berating of Jerusalem and her abominations. Unlike most stories of Israel that talk about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the Egyptian experience under Moses, this history of Jerusalem starts with the Canaanites. This has led many to believe that there may be some validity to this history. Of course, this is specifically aimed at the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They were Canaanites whose mother was a Hittite with their father an Amorite. The Amorites were an ancient Syrian tribe with a Semitic language that also lived in Canaan from about 1700 BCE. From a biblical perspective based on Genesis, chapter 10, they were the descendants of Canaan and Ham. Amorite and Canaanite were interchangeable. They were definitely there before the Moses-Joshua experience. The Hittites were another Canaanite group that seemed to be friendly in many of the Genesis stories.

A home for wisdom (Sir 24:8-24:12)

“Then the Creator of all things

Gave me a command.

My Creator chose the place for my tent.

He said.

‘Make your dwelling in Jacob.

In Israel

Receive your inheritance.’

Before the ages,

In the beginning,

He created me.

For all the ages,

I shall not cease to be.

In the holy tent

I ministered before him.

I was established in Zion.

Thus in the beloved city,

He gave me a resting place.

In Jerusalem

Was my domain.

I took root in an honored people.

They are the portion of the Lord,

His heritage.”

Continuing with wisdom speaking, Sirach has her find a new home in the land of Jacob and Israel, even more specifically at Zion in Jerusalem. The Creator God commands wisdom where to put her tent. Wisdom was definitely created, but before time began. She too would have an eternal existence that never ended. In this holy tent at Zion, she ministered to God as if she were a Levitical priest. Beloved Jerusalem was her resting place. She was rooted in this honored people of Israel, the Lord’s portion, and his heritage.

Priests (Sir 7:29-7:31)

“With all your soul

Fear the Lord!

Revere his priests!

With all your might,

Love your Maker!

Do not neglect his ministers!

Fear the Lord!

Honor the priest!

Give him his portion,

As you have been commanded.

Give him

The first fruits,

The guilt offering,

The gift of the shoulders,

The sacrifice of sanctification,

The first fruits of the holy things.”

Once again, Sirach is absolute in his demands about the Israelite Levitical priests.   Listening to them was like listening to God. Obviously, you were to fear the Lord and love your Maker. You also were to revere God’s priests. Thus you should not neglect God’s ministers. They should have their portion as commanded by the law. In case there was any confusion, he specifically listed what the priests were to get, the first fruits, the guilt offerings, the shoulders, the sanctification sacrifice, and the first fruits of the holy things. I am not sure about the shoulders, but the others were common in the Torah.