The crowds welcome the Son of David (Mt 21:8-21:9)

“A very large crowd

Spread their garments

On the road.

Others cut branches

From the trees.

They spread them

On the road.

The crowds went ahead of him.

Others followed him.

They were shouting.

‘Hosanna!

To the Son of David!

Blessed is the one

Who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”

 

ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, ἄλλοι δὲ ἔκοπτον κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ.

οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον λέγοντες Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ· Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου· Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.

 

Both Mark, chapter 11:8-10, and Luke, chapter 19:36-38, are similar but with slight differences.  Once again, Matthew emphasized the large crowds, as he said that a very large crowd of people (ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος) that spread out their outer garments or coats on the road (ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ,).  Meanwhile, others were cutting down branches from the surrounding trees (ἄλλοι δὲ ἔκοπτον κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων).  They also spread out these branches on the road (καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ).  The crowds were in front of him and behind him (οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες).  They were all shouting out (ἔκραζον λέγοντες) “Hosanna to the Son of David (Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ)!”  He was the blessed one who came in the name of the Lord (Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου).  These hosannas should reach to the highest heaven (Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις).  Hosanna was a Hebrew term of praise asking God to save them.  This saying came from the Hallel chants that was used in the Passover celebration, based on Psalm 118:26.  Later it became part of the Roman Catholic “Sanctus” chant in the Eucharistic celebration.  This event has become the great Palm Sunday celebration, the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Actually only John, chapter 12:13, called these palm branches.  This idea of laying garments on the road can be found in 2 Kings, chapter 9:13, to protect the feet of the king.  Clearly, this was an attempt to connect Jesus with the Davidic kingship.  Was Jesus to be the new king of Israel as a son of David?

History versus story

In what sense are these biblical books literal interpretations of what was happening?  History means different things to differ people.  History is always an interpretation.  In fact, our concept of what is history is always changing.  The result is that a literal interpretation means that you have to understand what they were trying to say about God, not the incidentals surrounding the events.  The idea of footnoting has become a general practice that was not known over a thousand years ago.  History sometimes refers to a good story.  Even in our own lifetime we can still argue about the events surrounding the death of President John Kennedy or the victims at the OJ Simpson house.  Thus, it does not seem out of place to question events that supposedly took place either pre-historically or thousands of years ago.  They did not have to happen exactly as detailed by men writing about them years after the described events.

The cry for justice (Hab 1:2-1:4)

“O Yahweh!

How long

Shall I cry for help?

You will not listen.

I cry to you.

‘Violence!’

You will not save me.

Why do you make me

See wrongdoing?

Why do you make me

Look at trouble?

Destruction is before me.

Violence is before me.

Strife arises

Contention arises.

So,

The law becomes slack.

Justice never prevails.

The wicked surround

The righteous.

Therefore,

Judgment

Comes forth perverted!”

Habakkuk complained to Yahweh that there was no justice in the land.  He wanted to know how long he would have to cry to be heard by Yahweh, since Yahweh did not seem to listen to him.  Habakkuk has cried out about this violence, but there was no one to save him.  Why did he have to see so much wrongdoing and trouble?  There were all kinds of destruction and violence all around him, since his life was full of strife and contention.  The law had become slack, so that justice did not prevail.  The wicked were in fact surrounding the righteous, so that there were only perverted judgments, not true justice from Yahweh.

The cherubim in the Temple (Ezek 10:3-10:5)

“Now the cherubim

Were standing

On the south side

Of the house.

When the man went in,

A cloud filled

The inner court.

Then the glory of Yahweh

Rose up from the cherubim

To the threshold

Of the house.

The house was filled

With the cloud.

The court

Was full

Of the brightness

Of the glory

Of Yahweh.

The sound

Of the wings

Of the cherubim

Was heard

As far as the outer court,

Like the voice

Of God Almighty     

When he speaks.”

Once again, this is reminiscent of the vision in chapter 1. The cherubim in the Temple were surrounding the Holy of Holies on the south side of the Temple. The man in linen cloth with the writing case at his side went into the sanctuary as a cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of Yahweh rose up from the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the Temple as in the last chapter. This glory of Yahweh was the real presence of God. The whole Temple was filled with a cloud, while the court was full of the brightness and glory of Yahweh. The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, as in chapter 1. They sounded like the voice of God Almighty when he spoke.

Tracing the coming enemy (Jer 4:15-4:17)

“A voice declares

From Dan.

It proclaims disaster

From Mount Ephraim.

Tell the nations!

‘Here they are!’

Announce to Jerusalem.

‘Besiegers come from a distant land!

They shout against the cities of Judah!

They have closed in around her

Like watchers of a field.”

Jeremiah has a little play by play of how the invading destroyers were coming to Jerusalem. First, they were in the far northern territory of Dan near the Syrian border. Then the second disaster warning comes from Mount Ephraim, just north of Benjamin, in the central area. Finally, they are besieging and surrounding the cities of Judah, the heartland, where Jerusalem is on the border with Benjamin. They were in fields watching as the attack was imminent.

 

The results of the attack on Moab (Isa 15:4-15:6)

“Heshbon cries out.

Elealeh cries out.

Their voices are heard

As far as Jahaz.

Therefore the loins of Moab quiver.

His soul trembles.

My heart cries out for Moab.

His fugitives flee to Zoar,

To Eglath-shelishiyah.

At the ascent of Luhith,

They go up weeping.

On the road to Horonaim,

They raise a cry of destruction.

The waters of Nimrim

Are a desolation.

The grass is withered.

The new growth fails.

The verdure is no more.”

As far as we can tell, everybody was crying out from the towns of Heshbon (mentioned 37 times in the biblical literature) and Elealeh (mentioned 10 times in the biblical literature). They were towns in the Israelite Reuben territory, but Isaiah seems to indicate here that they were part of upper Moab. This crying could be heard 25 miles away north in Jahaz (mentioned 8 times in the biblical literature) which was in the Israelite Gad territory. The Moab people were frightened. They were trembling. In fact, Isaiah says that even his heart cried out for them. These Moabites fugitives fled south to the tip of the Dead Sea near Zoar, which is on southeast end of the Dead Sea. There was a story about Lot in Genesis about this city (chapters 13-19). They also fled to the surrounding towns of Eglath-shelishiyah and Horonaim, near the ascent of the Luhith hills. Isaiah is the only one to mention any of these towns, but they seem to be in southern Moab near Zoar. The waters of Nimrim were desolate with grass withering and nothing growing. Only Jeremiah and Isaiah make any reference to these waters of Nimrim. Anyway, everybody was crying and upset.