The destruction of the Temple (Mt 24:2-24:2)

“Then Jesus asked them.

‘Do you not

See all these buildings?

Truly!

I say to you!

Not one stone

Will be left here

Upon another.

All will be thrown down.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐ βλέπετε ταῦτα πάντα; ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῇ ὧδε λίθος ἐπὶ λίθον ὃς οὐ καταλυθήσεται.

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:2, almost word for word, and in Luke, chapter 21:6, but slightly different.  Then Jesus answered them (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς).  He asked them if they had not seen all these buildings (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐ βλέπετε ταῦτα πάντα).  Then in a solemn proclamation (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) he told them that not one stone would be left on another stone here at the Temple (οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῇ ὧδε λίθος ἐπὶ λίθον).  All of the Temple buildings would be torn down or thrown down (ὃς οὐ καταλυθήσεται).  In fact, in 70 CE, about 40 years after the time of Jesus, the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Romans in their war with Israel.  Threats against the Jerusalem Temple had been common among the prophets in the Old Testament, especially before the Exile in the 6th century BCE.

O Jerusalem (Mt 23:37-23:37)

“O Jerusalem!

O Jerusalem!

The city

That kills the prophets!

They stone those

Who are sent to it!

How often

Have I desired

To gather

Your children together,

As a hen gathers

Her brood

Under her wings,

But you were not willing!”

 

Ἰερουσαλὴμ Ἰερουσαλήμ, ἡ ἀποκτείνουσα τοὺς προφήτας καὶ λιθοβολοῦσα τοὺς ἀπεσταλμένους πρὸς αὐτήν, ποσάκις ἠθέλησα ἐπισυναγαγεῖν τὰ τέκνα σου, ὃν τρόπον ὄρνις ἐπισυνάγει τὰ νοσσία αὐτῆς ὑπὸ τὰς πτέρυγας, καὶ οὐκ ἠθελήσατε.

 

Both Luke, chapter 13:34, and Matthew here have this lament about Jerusalem, word for word the same, so that this may be a Q source.  Jesus addressed Jerusalem (Ἰερουσαλὴμ Ἰερουσαλήμ), saying that it was the city that killed the prophets (ἡ ἀποκτείνουσα τοὺς προφήτας).  They stoned those prophets who were sent to it (καὶ λιθοβολοῦσα τοὺς ἀπεσταλμένους πρὸς αὐτήν).  God, the Father, or Jesus had often desired to gather her children together (ποσάκις ἠθέλησα ἐπισυναγαγεῖν τὰ τέκνα σου), just like a hen gathers her brood of little chicks under her wings (ὃν τρόπον ὄρνις ἐπισυνάγει τὰ νοσσία αὐτῆς ὑπὸ τὰς πτέρυγας).  However, Jerusalem was not willing to do so (καὶ οὐκ ἠθελήσατε).  This idea of a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings can be found in Psalm 17:8 that spoke about hiding in the shadow of her wings and Psalm 91:4 that once again spoke about being covered with wings.  The exact incidents of the city of Jerusalem killing prophets are not clear.

Citation of Psalm 118 (Mt 21:42-21:42)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Have you never read

In the scriptures?

‘The stone

That the builders rejected

Has become

The cornerstone.

This was the Lord’s doing,

It is amazing in our eyes’”

 

Λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας· παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη, καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν;

 

This citation of Psalm 118:22-23 can be found in Mark, chapter 12:10, word for word, and Luke, chapter 20:17, in an abbreviated fashion.  Jesus asked them (Λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) if they had read the scriptures (Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς) especially Psalm 118, that was also part of the Hallel prayer.  Then Jesus quoted a few verses of this Psalm 118: 22-23, about the stone that the builders had rejected (Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς), because they probably thought that it was inferior.  Now, that very stone has become the cornerstone or key head stone (οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας) of that building.  This was the work of the Lord (παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη) that was amazing and marvelous to everyone’s eyes (καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν).

The fifth curse against the Chaldean idols (Hab 2:18-2:20)

“What use is an idol?

Once its maker

Has shaped it,

It is a cast image,

A teacher of lies.

Its maker trusts

In his own creation,

Even though the product

Is only an idol

That cannot speak.

Woe to you!

You say to the wood.

‘Wake up!’

You say to silent stone.

‘Rouse yourself!’

Can it teach?

See!

It is gold plated.

It is silver plated.

There is no breath

In it at all.

But Yahweh is

In his holy temple.

Let all the earth

Keep silence

Before him.”

This final and fifth curse of Habakkuk was against the Chaldean idols, a favorite theme of the prophets.  What good were these idols?  They were handmade human creations, full of lies.  They could not speak.  How foolish they were, when they asked wood and stone to wake up and rouse themselves.  These idols cannot teach anything, since they are gold and silver plated, without any breath in them.  Contrast that with Yahweh in his holy temple, where all the earth keeps silent before him.

The unhumble king (Dan 5:22-5:23)

“‘You!

His son!

King Belshazzar!

Have not humbled

Your heart,

Even though

You knew all this!

You have exalted yourself

Against the Lord of heaven!

The vessels

Of his temple

Have been brought in

Before you.

You,

Your lords,

Your wives,

Your concubines,

Have been drinking wine

From them.

You have praised

The gods

Of silver

Of gold,

Of bronze,

Of iron,

Of wood,

Of stone.

They do not

See,

Hear,

Or know.

You have not honored

The God

In whose power

Is your very breath,

To whom belong

All your ways.’”

Daniel then turned to King Belshazzar himself, because he had not humbled his heart, even though he knew all about his father or grandfather. He too exalted himself against the Lord of heaven. He even took the vessels from his holy temple for his feast or party to drink wine with his lords, wives, and concubines. He even praised the false idol gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone who could not see, hear, or know anything. He did not honor the true God, who controls his life and his actions.

They drank wine from the sacred vessels (Dan 5:3-5:4)

“So,

They brought in

The vessels

Of gold,

The vessels

Of silver,

That had been taken

Out of the temple,

The house of God,

In Jerusalem.

The king,

His lords,

His wives,

His concubines,

Drank from them.

They drank

The wine.

They praised

The gods

Of gold,

The gods

Of silver,

The gods

Of bronze,

The gods

Of iron,

The gods

Of wood,

The gods

Of stone.”

So, the feast or party rolled on. The servants brought in these silver and gold vessels from the Temple of God in Jerusalem. Then the king, his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank wine from them. They praised the various idols or pagan gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone that were common in Babylon.

The eternal kingdom (Dan 2:44-2:45)

“In the days

Of those kings,

The God of heaven

Will set up a kingdom

That shall never be destroyed.

This kingdom

Shall not be left

To another people.

It shall crush

All these kingdoms.

It shall bring them

To an end.

It shall stand forever.

Just as you saw

That a stone was cut

From the mountain,

Not by human hands.

This stone crushed

The iron,

The bronze,

The clay,

The silver,

The gold.

The great God

Has informed

The king

What shall be hereafter.

The dream is certain.

Its interpretation is

Trustworthy.”

Daniel then talked about the fifth and final kingdom, the eternal kingdom, set up by the God of heaven that shall never be destroyed. No other people would inherit this kingdom, since it would crush all the other kingdoms, like the stone in the king’s dream that crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and gold kingdoms. The great God in heaven has informed King Nebuchadnezzar about the future. Thus, Daniel concluded that the dream was certain and his interpretation was also trustworthy.

The assembly stoning and death (Ezek 23:46-23:49)

“Thus says Yahweh God.

‘Bring up an assembly

Against them!

Make them

An object of terror!

Make them

An object of plunder!

The assembly

Shall stone them!

They shall cut them down

With their swords!

They shall kill their sons!

They shall kill their daughters!

They shall burn up

Their houses!

Thus will I put an end

To lewdness

In the land!

Thus all women

May take warning!

Do not commit lewdness

As you have done!

They shall repay you

For your lewdness.

You shall bear

The penalty

For your sinful idolatry!

You shall know

That I am Yahweh God!’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was clear that the punishment for this lewd behavior was death. They were to gather an assembly against these wanton women, who were an object of terror and plunder. The assembly was to stone them and cut them down with swords. They were to kill their sons and daughters, as well as burn up their houses. Yahweh was going to put an end to all this lewdness in the land of Israel. This was a very severe punishment. All the women were put on warning. In other words, there was a jump from the bad behavior of the feminine cities of Samaria and Jerusalem to all the Israelite women. They were not to commit lewd acts. If they did, they would be repaid for their bad behavior. They would bear the penalty for their sinful idolatry. Everyone should know that Yahweh was God.

Prayer to Yahweh (Ps 118:21-118:27)

“I thank you.

You have answered me.

You have become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone.

This is Yahweh’s doing.

It is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day which Yahweh has made.

Let us rejoice!

Let us be glad in it!

Save us!

We beseech you!

Yahweh!

Yahweh!

We beseech your!

Give us success!

Blessed is the one

Who comes in the name of Yahweh!

We bless you from the house of Yahweh.

Yahweh is God!

He has given us light.

Bind the festal procession with branches!

Up to the horns of the altar!”

The psalmist thanked Yahweh for saving him. Then we have the famous phrases that became popular for many New Testament Christian writers, “The stone that the builders had rejected has now become the cornerstone.” There is also the saying that has been associated with the Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection. “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.” Yahweh has done many marvelous things before their eyes. Thus the hosanna phrase, which means save us, also influenced the early Christian writers. They asked God to save them also. “Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord.” As you can see, this festive psalm had a profound effect on the early followers of Jesus Christ. They blessed Yahweh from inside his house because Yahweh was truly the God of light. They were to take their processional branches and put them on the horns around the altar. There is no doubt that this was a processional psalm of thanksgiving at a festive occasion.

A description of Leviathan (Job 41:12-41:24)

“I will not keep silence concerning its limbs.

I will not keep silence concerning its mighty strength.

I will not keep silence concerning its splendid frame.

Who can strip off its outer garment?

Who can penetrate its double coat of mail?

Who can open the doors of its face?

There is terror all around its teeth.

Its back is made of shields of rows.

Its back is shut up closely as with a seal.

One is so near to another.

No air can come between them.

They are joined one to another.

They clasp each other.

They cannot be separated.

Its sneezes flash forth light.

Its eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.

From its mouth go flaming torches.

Sparks of fire leap out from its mouth.

Out of its nostrils comes smoke,

It is like from a boiling pot and burning rushes.

Its breath kindles coals.

A flame comes out of its mouth.

In its neck abides strength.

Terror dances before it.

The folds of its flesh cling together.

It is firmly cast and immovable.

Its heart is as hard as stone.

It is as hard as the lower millstone.”

Yahweh then presented a graphic description of Leviathan. Leviathan has a mighty frame so that you cannot take off its skin with its double coat of protective armor. It has ferocious teeth. Its back has rows of shields sealed closely together so that no air comes between them. When it sneezes light comes out. Flames come out its mouth that can light fires. Smoke comes out its nostrils. It has folds of flesh around its neck. Its heart was as hard as stone. This is one mean looking terrifying dude.