Prophecy of Zechariah (Mt 21:4-21:5)

“This took place

To fulfill

What had been spoken

Through the prophet.

Saying.

‘Tell the daughter of Zion!

Look!

Your king is coming

To you,

Humble,

Mounted on a donkey,

And on a colt,

The foal of a donkey.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών Ἰδοὺ ὁ Βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι πραῢς καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὄνον καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that this activity took place (Τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν) to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet (ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος).  Although not named, this prophet was Zechariah, chapter 9:9, one of the 12 minor prophets that lived in the 6th century BCE under Persian rule.  This prophet had said to tell the daughter of Zion (Εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών) to look for their king coming to them (Ἰδοὺ ὁ Βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι).  He would be humble, mild, or gentle (πραῢς), but mounted on a donkey (καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὄνον) and a colt, that was the foal or son of a donkey (καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου).  This was an actual misreading of the prophet, since Zechariah had spoken of a young colt donkey, who had been the foal of a donkey, not two separate animals.  Matthew used this passage to show how Jesus was the expected Israelite king.  He was to be the prince of peace.  Originally, Yahweh wanted Zion or Jerusalem to shout and rejoice, because their new king was coming.  He would be triumphant, victorious, and humble at the same time, but riding on a young donkey colt.  Matthew’s intention was clear.  Jesus was the expected messiah king.

The prophecy about parables (Mt 13:35-13:35)

“This was to fulfill

What had been spoken

By the prophet.

‘I will open my mouth

To speak in parables.

I will proclaim

What has been hidden

From the foundation

Of the world.’”

 

ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Ἀνοίξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὸ στόμα μου, ἐρεύξομαι κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς.

 

Matthew uniquely cited this prophecy from the Psalms, Psalm 78:2, where the psalmist Asaph explained the teachings from long ago.  Jesus was going to open his mouth in parables about the old-fashioned sayings, like the wisdom writers.  These sayings had been passed on from his ancestors, showing the great deeds of Yahweh that he had done for Israel.  Jesus, via Matthew, justified or fulfilled (ὅπως πληρωθῇ) what the prophet Asaph in the psalms had said (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος) about the use of parables.  He would open his mouth in parables (Ἀνοίξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὸ στόμα μου) to proclaim the hidden mysteries from the foundations of the earth (ἐρεύξομαι κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς).  The parables were a way of conveying wisdom, with only the initiated able to understand them.

The fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah (Mt 12:17-12:17)

“This was to fulfill

What was spoken

Through the prophet Isaiah.”

 

ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἡσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

 

There is no question that this citation from Second Isaiah, chapter 42-1-4, was unique to Matthew.  He was a strong believer that these sayings of the Old Testament or Hebrew scriptures were fulfilled with Jesus (ἵνα πληρωθῇ) and his healings.  Matthew explicitly mentions that the prophet Isaiah had spoken these words (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἡσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος).

Fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 8:17-8:17)

“This was to fulfill

What was spoken

Through the prophet Isaiah.

‘He took our infirmities.

He bore our diseases.’”

 

ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Αὐτὸς τὰς ἀσθενείας ἡμῶν ἔλαβεν καὶ τὰς νόσους ἐβάστασεν.

 

Once again, this citation of Deutero-Isaiah, chapter 53:4, is unique to Matthew, who said that Jesus was the fulfillment of the spoken prophecy of the prophet Isaiah (ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος).  He would take on our infirmities (Αὐτὸς τὰς ἀσθενείας ἡμῶν ἔλαβεν).  He would bear our diseases (καὶ τὰς νόσους ἐβάστασεν).  However, there was no mention of his healing others or casting out demons in this original citation from Isaiah.  According to Second Isaiah, this suffering servant Messiah would become a scapegoat for all of us since he would bear our infirmities and diseases.  He would suffer our illness.  God would strike and afflict him.  He would be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our sins.  His punishment would make us whole.  His bruises would heal us.  This was Matthew’s attempt to show that Jesus was the expected Messiah.  However, the original text did not have the Messiah healing people, but rather suffering like the rest of us.

Fulfillment of prophecy to come out of Egypt (Mt 2:15-2:15)

This was to fulfill

What had been spoken

By the Lord,

Through the prophet.

‘Out of Egypt,

I have called my son.’”

 

ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου.

 

Matthew explained that the reason for this trip to Egypt was to fulfill (ἵνα πληρωθῇ) a divine prophecy.  The word of the Lord (τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου) had spoken this prophecy though the prophet Hosea, chapter 11:1 (διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος), although Hosea was not explicitly mentioned here.  Just as Yahweh, the Lord, had originally called his child Israel from Egypt as in Hosea, so too, the Lord, the Father, would again call his son, this child, from Egypt (Ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου).  In other words, Matthew makes it sound like this expediency to get away from Herod was set up to fulfill the Lord’s prophecy in Hosea.

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 1:22-1:23)

“All this took place

To fulfil

What had been spoken

By the Lord

Through the prophet.

‘Look!

The virgin young woman

Shall conceive.

She shall bear a son.

They shall name him

Emmanuel.’

This translated means.

‘God with us.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.

 

This dream with the angelic message took place (Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν), so that the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 7, would be fulfilled (πληρωθῇ). Matthew said that these were the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet (τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος), without explicitly naming Isaiah. When you look at the context of this saying in Isaiah, he was talking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David. He said that Yahweh was going to give them a sign that a young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, would have a child. This child would be called Emmanuel that meant “God is with us.” Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus, as here in Matthew. However, the original context in Isaiah seems to indicate that King Ahaz would have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz turned out to be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. A key to understanding this interpretation of Isaiah is the Greek word ἡ παρθένος. Does this mean a young woman or a virgin? The assumption was that all young women who were not married were virgins, without explicitly saying that this Greek word meant virgin. This young virgin girl had a child in her womb (ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει). She was going to have a son (καὶ τέξεται υἱόν). They were going to name this son Emmanuel (καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ,). Matthew seems to imply that this Hebrew word Emmanuel needed to be translated (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον) into Greek for his readers. Thus, he explained that it meant “God is with us.” This actually was in the original Isaiah statement, but Isaiah never used the word translated (μεθερμηνευόμενον). Thus, God will be with us in the person of Jesus, the Savior, Emmanuel. There is no mention of an anointed one or Christ here.

The Word of God

In what sense is the Bible “the word of God”?  Certainly, the Bible was written by humans.  However, there are a number of times when the human authors were citing the words of God himself.  Sometimes these are called oracles or sayings of God.  This series of books portray humans interacting with God.  God wants them to do something and then the humans react.  The Bible contains words about God and words of God himself spoken to humans.  Thus, we can say that the Bible is the inspired words of God in human terms.

Harsh words (Mal 3:13-3:13)

“‘You have spoken

Harsh words

Against me.’

Says Yahweh.

Yet you say.

‘How have we spoken

Against you?’”

Yahweh, via Malachi, told the Israelites that they had spoken harsh words against him.  However, the Israelites responded that they were not aware that they had spoken such things against Yahweh

Haggai stirred up the spirits of the people of Jerusalem (Hag 1:14-1:15)

“Yahweh stirred up

The spirit of Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

The governor of Judah.

Yahweh stirred up

The spirit of Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.

Yahweh stirred up

The spirit of all the remnant

Of the people.

They came.

They worked

On the house

Of Yahweh of hosts,

Their God.

This was

On the twenty-fourth day

Of the month,

In the sixth month.”

Yahweh stirred up the spirits of the people of Jerusalem.  This included the 2 leaders, Governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua.  Once again, they were mentioned with their father’s name and title also.  All the rest of the people in Jerusalem were also stirred up.  Thus, they came to work on the house of Yahweh, their God, 23 days after Haggai had first spoken to them at the beginning of this chapter.