The gnat and the camel (Mt 23:24-23:24)

“You blind guides!

You strain out a gnat!

But you swallow a camel!”

 

ὁδηγοὶ τυφλοί, οἱ διϋλίζοντες τὸν κώνωπα, τὴν δὲ κάμηλον καταπίνοντες.

 

This unique diatribe of Matthew against the Scribes and Pharisees continued.  Here Jesus called them blind guides, as Matthew had earlier mentioned in chapter 15:14 and earlier in this chapter 23, verses 16, 17 and 19.  Jesus said that they were like blind guides (ὁδηγοὶ τυφλοὶ) because they were straining out the little gnats (οἱ διϋλίζοντες τὸν κώνωπα) that was in their wine cups, but they were swallowing a big camel (τὴν δὲ κάμηλον καταπίνοντες).  They were misguided in their perspectives.

A great fish swallows Jonah (Jon 1:17-1:17)

“Yahweh

Provided

A large fish

To swallow up

Jonah.

Jonah was

In the belly

Of the fish

Three days

As well as three nights.”

Here we get to the great story of Jonah and the whale that has delighted young children for centuries. First, is this the end of the 1st chapter or the beginning of the 2nd chapter? Is this a male of female fish? There are many interpretations about this fish. Was it a big fish or a whale? Was it a special fish just for this one occasion that Yahweh provided it? Is this just an allegorical story like a dream or vision? Most people have interpreted this large fish as a whale or shark. However, most whales could not swallow a whole human. Perhaps, it was a sea monster or a sea serpent. The obvious comparison between the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians.

 

Whisperers (Prov 26:20-26:22)

“For lack of wood

The fire goes out.

Where there is no whisperer,

Quarreling ceases.

As charcoal is to hot embers,

As wood is to fire,

So a quarrelsome person is for kindling strife.

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels.

They go down into the inner parts of the body.”

I guess that I never thought of whisperers as a problem. Clearly they are. These whisperers create quarrels. They are like wood to a fire, like charcoal on hot embers, or like kindling wood. These whisperers must be people who go around spreading rumors. Once again, almost word for word from chapter 18, the whisperer is compared to a delightful delicious morsel until you swallow it. Then it goes into the inner parts of your body and causes internal problems.

Watch your companions (Prov 1:10-1:19)

“My child!

If sinners entice you,

Do not consent!

If they say.

‘Come with us!

Let us lie in wait for blood!

Let us wantonly ambush the innocent!

Like Sheol,

Let us swallow them alive and whole!

Like those who go down to the Pit,

We shall find all kinds of costly things.

We shall fill our houses with booty.

Throw in your lot among us!

We will all have one purse.’

My child!

Do not walk in their way!

Keep your foot from their paths!

Their feet run to evil.

They hurry to shed blood.

For in vain is a net baited,

While the bird is looking on.

Yet they lie in wait,

To kill themselves.

They set an ambush

For their own lives.

Such is the end

Of all who are greedy for gain.

It takes away the life of its possessors.”

The main parental advice of these proverbs is to stay away from evil people. Do not let sinners entice you! Stay away from those who want to ambush innocent people in order to spill their blood. They seem to think that they can swallow people up like Sheol or the pit, the grave, does. This part appears to not sound enticing, but the kicker enticement was filling up your house with spoils and booty. They would all share together with one purse. Parents should warn their children not to walk in their paths or let their feet walk in their ways. These wicked ones hurry to shed blood. However, they set a net while the birds are watching so that their own ambush will kill them. This is the end for those who are greedy and want to kill others so that they would have their goods.

The prayer to Yahweh (Ps 69:13-69:15)

“But as for me,

My prayer is to you.

Yahweh!

At an acceptable time!

O God!

In the abundance of your steadfast love

Answer me!

With your faithful help,

Rescue me

From sinking in the mire!

Let me be delivered

From my enemies!

Let me be delivered

From the deep waters!

Do not let

The flood sweep over me!

Do not let

The deep swallow me up!

Do not let

The pit closes its mouth over me!”

David prayed to Yahweh. He was willing to get a response at an acceptable time from God. He knew that God loved him. Thus he wanted to be rescued from sinking in mud. He wanted to be free of his enemies. He wanted to get away from the deep waters. He did not want the flood to come and swallow him up. He certainly did not want to go down to his grave, the pit that would swallow him up. This time of the flood of water overtaking him continued from the opening verses.

The defeat of the Yahweh’s enemies (Ps 21:8-21:12)

“Your hand will find out all your enemies.

Your right hand will find out those who hate you.

You will make them like a fiery furnace

When you appear.

Yahweh will swallow them up in his wrath.

Fire will consume them.

You will destroy their offspring from the earth.

You will destroy their children from among humankind.

If they plan evil against you,

If they devise mischief,

They will not succeed.

You will put them to flight.

You will aim at their faces,

With your bows.”

Yahweh will find his enemies and those who hate him. He will then defeat them as a fiery furnace or swallow them up. Fire will consume them, even their offspring. Their children will be destroyed. Anyone who tried to plan or devise evil or mischief against Yahweh will not succeed. They will be put to flight as arrows will hit them in the face.

The fate of the wicked (Job 20:12-20:19)

“Though wickedness is sweet in their mouth,

Though they hide it under their tongues,

Though they are loath to let it go,

Though they hold it in their mouth,

Yet their food is turned in their stomachs.

It is the venom of asps within them.

They swallow down riches.

They vomit them up again.

God casts them out of their bellies.

They will suck the poison of asps.

The tongue of a viper will kill them.

They will not look on the rivers,

The streams flowing with honey and curds.

They will give back the fruit of their toil.

They will not swallow it down.

From the profit of their trading

They will get no enjoyment.

They have crushed and abandoned the poor.

They have seized a house

That they did not build.”

There is a further explanation of the wicked ones. They try to hide their wickedness. However it turns in their stomachs. Poisonous snakes or asps are within them. They swallow wealth and then vomit it out. What a metaphor! They will die from the poison of the snakes that they suck on. They will not see the rivers with honey and curds. They will give back the fruit of the land and not eat it. They will not enjoy their trading profits. They have crushed the poor and seized houses that they did not build. This is a vivid description of greedy people who do not care about others, the wicked ones.