Zacchaeus defends himself (Lk 19:8-19:8)

“Zacchaeus stood there.

He said

To the Lord.

‘Look!

Lord!

I will give

To the poor

Half of my possessions.

If I have defrauded

Anyone of anything,

I will pay back

Four times as much.’”

 

σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, Κύριε, τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν.

 

Luke indicated that Zacchaeus stood there (σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος).  He then said to the Lord Jesus (εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον), calling him Lord (Κύριε) that he was willing to give to the poor (τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι) half of his possessions (Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων).  He said that if he had defrauded anyone of anything (καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα), he was willing to pay it back 4 times as much (ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν).  Once again, Luke used the Greek word ἐσυκοφάντησα, that means to accuse falsely or defraud people, that was not found in any of the other Greek biblical writers.  Zacchaeus made a big deal about how he was not like the other tax collectors.  Despite his wealth, he was willing to give half of it away to some unnamed poor people.  Anytime, he was accused of defrauding people, he would give them 4 times what they were claiming.  This restoration of 4 times goes back to Exodus, chapter 22:1, about stealing sheep.  The thief had to pay four sheep for any one stolen sheep.  Thus, Zacchaeus seemed like a very fair person, leaning over backwards to help people.  Yet he was still wealthy.  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  How do you treat people who claim that you are defrauding them?

The stolen body story spread (Mt 28:15-28:15)

“Thus,

They took the money.

They did

As they were directed.

This story

Is still told

Among the Jews

To this day.”

 

οἱ δὲ λαβόντες ἀργύρια ἐποίησαν ὡς ἐδιδάχθησαν. Καὶ διεφημίσθη ὁ λόγος οὗτος παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις μέχρι τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  He said that these custodian guards or soldiers took the money (οἱ δὲ λαβόντες ἀργύρια).  They did as the Jewish leaders had directed or instructed them to do (ἐποίησαν ὡς ἐδιδάχθησαν).  These guards explained that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body of Jesus while they were asleep.  Matthew then remarked that this story was spread all over and being told among Jewish people (Καὶ διεφημίσθη ὁ λόγος οὗτος παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις) right up to the day that he was writing this gospel in the 2nd half of the first century, some 30-40 years later or the present day (μέχρι τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας).  Obviously, this was a slap at the Jews who had not become Jewish Christians.

The interpretation of this flying scroll (Zech 5:3-5:4)

“Then the angel said to me.

‘This is the curse

That goes out

Over the face

Of the whole land.

Everyone who steals

Shall be cut off

According to the writing

On one side.

Everyone who swears falsely

Shall be cut off

According to the writing

On the other side.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I have sent it out.

It shall enter

The house of the thief.

It shall enter

The house of anyone

Who swears falsely

By my name.

It shall abide

In that house.

It shall consume it,

Both timber

With stones.’”

The angel who had been talking to Zechariah interpreted this vision for him.  This flying scroll was a curse that went out over the face of the earth.  On one side of this scroll, it said that everyone who had stolen anything would be cut off, while the other side of the scroll said that anyone who swore falsely in Yahweh’s name would be cut off also.  Thus, this flying scroll would enter the houses of those robbers and perjurers, so that their houses would be destroyed, including all the timber and stones in them.

The conversion of the wicked ones (Ezek 33:14-33:16)

“Again,

Although I say

To the wicked!

‘You shall surely die!’

Yet if they turn

From their sin,

If they do

What is lawful,

What is right,

They shall surely live.

If the wicked ones restore

The pledge,

If they give back

What they have taken

By robbery,

They shall surely live.

If they walk

In the statutes of life,

If they commit no iniquity,

They shall surely live.

They shall not die.

None of the sins

That they have committed

Shall be remembered

Against them.

They have done

What is lawful.

They have done

What is right.

They shall surely live.”

This time, Yahweh turned to the wicked ones. They were going to die if they did not turn away from their sin. However, if they did what was lawful and right, they would surely live. If these wicked ones restored their debt pledges and gave back what they have stolen in their robberies, they would live. If they walked in the statutes of life, and did not commit any iniquity, they would live, not die. None of the sins that they had committed would be remembered against them. As long as they did what was lawful and right, they would surely live. There was hope for these wicked sinners.

Gold (Lam 4:1-4:1)

Aleph

“How the gold

Has grown dim!

How the pure gold

Is changed!

The sacred stones

Lie scattered

At the head

Of every street.”

This lamentation begins with talk about the dimming gold and sacred stones scattered all over the streets, especially at the head of the street or the street corners. This is a reference to the holy treasures and vessels of the Temple that have been stolen due to the attack on Jerusalem. This first verse of this single verse acrostic poem starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Aleph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Unacceptable sacrifices (Sir 34:21-34:27)

“If one sacrifices ill-gotten goods,

The offering is blemished.

The gifts of the lawless

Are not acceptable.

The Most High is not pleased

With the offerings of the ungodly.

He does not forgive sins

For a multitude of sacrifices.

Like one who kills a son,

Before his father’s eyes,

Is the person

Who offers a sacrifice

From the property of the poor.

The bread of the needy

Is the life of the poor.

Whoever deprives them of it

Is a murderer.

To take away a neighbor’s living

Is to commit murder.

To deprive an employee of his wages

Is to shed blood.”

There are some sacrifices that are not acceptable to the Lord. Sirach points out that stolen or ill-gotten goods sacrificed are blemished and thus unacceptable. Even good gifts from the lawless and the ungodly will not be acceptable. A lot of sacrifices do not forgive sins. If you sacrifice the property of the poor, you are like a person killing a son before his own father. The bread of the poor is needed for their life. You are a murderer when you take bread from the poor. If you take away the living of your neighbor, you are a murderer. To deprive anyone of their wages is like shedding their blood. In other words, to steal from the poor or take away their livelihood is like murdering them.

His love (Song 4:9-4:11)

Male lover

“You have ravished my heart!

My sister!

My bride!

You have ravished my heart

With a glance of your eyes,

With one jewel of your necklace.

How sweet is your love!

My sister!

My bride!

How much better is your love

Than wine!

The fragrance of your oils is better

Than any spice!

Your lips distil nectar!

My bride!

Honey and milk are under your tongue.

The scent of your garments is

Like the scent of Lebanon.”

This male lover than goes into a praise of her wonders. He calls her a bride and a sister. Sister is a term of endearment in Egyptian poetry. Bride is used as an aspiration term, what he wants to happen. She has ravished his heart. She has stolen his heart with her glancing eyes and jeweled necklace. Her love is sweet and better than wine. Her fragrance is better than any spices. Her lips are like fruity nectar. She seems to have milk and honey under her tongue just like the Promised Land was always full of milk and honey. Her garments smelt like Lebanon. I assume that this was a good smell of cedar wood.