They were righteous (Lk 1:6-1:6)

“Both of them

Were righteous

Before God.

They lived

Blamelessly

According to

All the commandments

And regulations

Of the Lord.”

 

ἦσαν δὲ δίκαιοι ἀμφότεροι ἐναντίον τοῦ Θεοῦ, πορευόμενοι ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐντολαῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν τοῦ Κυρίου ἄμεμπτοι

 

Luke continued his unique portrayal of Zechariah and Elizabeth as righteous people (ἦσαν δὲ δίκαιοι ἀμφότεροι) before God (ἐναντίον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  As they were descendants of Aaron, the expectations for their behavior were higher than other Israelites.  They were blameless (ἄμεμπτοι).  They walked or followed all the commandments, statutes, ordinances and regulations of the Lord (πορευόμενοι ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐντολαῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν τοῦ Κυρίου).  They were upright people, pillars of the community.  They were faithful followers of the Jewish Law.  Who could ask for anything more?

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The Law

The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE.  The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert.  Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart.  This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.  These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land.  All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.

They example of northern Israel (Mic 6:16-6:16)

“You have kept

The statutes of Omri.

You have kept

All the works

Of the house of Ahab.

You have followed

Their counsels.

Therefore,

I will make you

A desolation.

I will make your inhabitants

An object of hissing.

Thus,

You shall bear

The scorn of my people.”

The statutes of King Omri (885-874 BCE) and King Ahab (874-853 BCE), the kings of northern Israel, favored the Baal worship and various injustices in Samaria.  They had followed the bad counsels of these northern kings of Israel.  Thus, Yahweh was going to make them a desolation.  The people of the north would become an object of hissing, as they bore the scorn of Yahweh’s people.

The Zadok priests as teachers and judges (Ezek 44:23-44:24)

“They shall teach

My people

The difference

Between the holy

And the common.

They shall show them

How to distinguish

Between the unclean

And the clean.

In a controversy,

They shall act

As judges.

They shall decide it

According to my judgments.

They shall keep

My laws,

As well as my statutes

Regarding

All my appointed festivals.

They shall keep

My Sabbath holy.”

These Zadok priests would teach Yahweh’s people the difference between the holy and the common, as well as how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. In any controversy, they would act as judges. They would decide all these cases according to Yahweh’s judgments. They were to keep all Yahweh’s laws and statutes regarding the appointed religious festivals. Finally, they were to keep the Sabbath holy.

One Davidic king (Ezek 37:24-37:25)

“My servant David

Shall be king

Over them.

They shall all

Have one shepherd.

They shall follow

My ordinances.

They shall be careful

To observe

My statutes.

They shall live

In the land

That I gave to

My servant Jacob,

Where you ancestors lived.

They,

With their children,

With their children’s children

Shall live there forever.

My servant,

David,

Shall be their prince

Forever.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, spoke lovingly about the kingship of David. However, King David lived nearly 400 years earlier than the time frame of the exile. Obviously, this is an allusion to a Davidic king, someone from his blood line. However, that would be hard to prove. The key point here was that there was going to be only one shepherd, one king, one country, not multiple kingdoms. Everyone would follow and observe Yahweh’s ordinances and statutes. They were going to live in the land that Yahweh gave to his servant Jacob, where their ancestors had lived. There they, their children, and their children’s children would live forever under the princely leader from the Davidic dynasty.

The false statutes (Ezek 20:25-20:26)

“Moreover

I gave them statutes

That were not good.

I gave them ordinances

By which

They could not have life.

I defiled them

Through their very gifts,

In their offering up

All their firstborn.

Thus I might

Horrify them.

Thus they might know

That I am Yahweh.”

In some sort of cruel joke, Yahweh gave his people statutes and ordinances that he knew were not good or helpful for their life. In fact, he seemed to indicate that he had told them to offer up their first born babies as a sacrifice. He did this to defile and horrify them. However, like always, they should know that he was Yahweh. Was this some sort of primitive practice? This seems to contradict everything else that was said in this work.

They still rebelled (Ezek 20:13-20:13)

“But the house of Israel

Rebelled

Against me

In the wilderness.

They did not observe

My statutes.

But they rejected

My ordinances.

By their observance,

Everyone shall live.

They rejected

My Sabbath.

They greatly

Profaned it.”

The house of Israel rebelled in the wilderness also. They did not observe Yahweh’s statutes and ordinances. Instead, they rejected these living ordinances and the Sabbath observance. Thus they profaned it.