The nobleman (Lk 19:12-19:12)

 

“Thus,

Jesus said.

‘A nobleman

Went

To a distant country

To get royal power

For himself.

Then he would return.’”

 

εἶπεν οὖν Ἄνθρωπός τις εὐγενὴς ἐπορεύθη εἰς χώραν μακρὰν λαβεῖν ἑαυτῷ βασιλείαν καὶ ὑποστρέψαι.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said (εἶπεν οὖν) that a nobleman (Ἄνθρωπός τις εὐγενὴς) went to a distant country (ἐπορεύθη εἰς χώραν μακρὰν) to get royal power for himself (λαβεῖν ἑαυτῷ βασιλείαν).  After that, he would return later (καὶ ὑποστρέψαι).  This might have been a hint about the local leaders going to Rome to get their royal powers.  It may also be about Jesus going to heaven and then returning at the last judgment or the Second Coming.  However, there was the overriding theme of the need for responsibility, productivity, and not laziness.  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 25:14, where the story is about a man with a household of slaves and not a nobleman as here.  The slaves were given money to take care of things while the rich man was gone.  In Matthew, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven would be like a man going on a journey (Ὥσπερ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος ἀποδημῶν).  This very generous man called or summoned his slaves (ἐκάλεσεν τοὺς ἰδίους δούλους) to entrust them or give them his property and possessions, while he was gone (καὶ παρέδωκεν αὐτοῖς τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ).  In Mark, 13:34, Jesus said that the end times would be like a man going on a journey (ὡς ἄνθρωπος ἀπόδημος).  He left his house (ἀφεὶς τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ).  He gave his slaves the authority (καὶ δοὺς τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐξουσίαν) to perform their own individual tasks (ἑκάστῳ τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ).  He commanded a doorkeeper to stand watch over this whole situation (καὶ τῷ θυρωρῷ ἐνετείλατο ἵνα γρηγορῇ).  However, the story for Mark ended there, unlike Luke and Matthew that have more details about the slaves in this household.  What do you do when you go on a long journey?

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The tradition of Moses (Mk 7:10-7:10)

“Moses said.

‘Honor your father!

Honor your mother!’

‘Whoever speaks evil

Of father

Or mother,

Must surely die!’”

 

Μωϋσῆς γὰρ εἶπεν Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα σου, καί Ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα θανάτῳ τελευτάτω.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:4.  Mark indicated that Jesus gave an example of one of God’s Ten Commandments that Moses had given them (Μωϋσῆς γὰρ εἶπεν) about honoring your father and mother (Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα σου), as found in Exodus, chapter 20:12 and Deuteronomy chapter 5:16.  There it said that you will live long and things will go well with you, if you take care of and honor your parents.  Jesus then added in the saying about speaking evil of one’s parents (καί Ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα) from Exodus, chapter 21:17, and Leviticus, chapter 20:9, where the penalty for striking or cursing a parent was death (θανάτῳ τελευτάτω).

Do not worry about tomorrow (Mt 6:34-6:34)

“Therefore,

Do not worry

About tomorrow!

Tomorrow

Will bring worries

Of its own.

Today’s trouble

Is enough

For today.”

 

μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε εἰς τὴν αὔριον, ἡ γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει ἑαυτῆς· ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς.

 

Matthew concluded this chapter, without any parallel in Luke.  Thus, this great philosophical saying of Jesus is unique to Matthew.  Just worry about today, not tomorrow.  This certainly fits in with all the indications about not worrying, because the heavenly Father would take care of things.  However, there is no mention of God or Father here.  Do not be anxious about tomorrow (μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε εἰς τὴν αὔριον)!  Tomorrow will be anxious by itself (ἡ γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει ἑαυτῆς).  There are enough problems today (ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς.).  Pure and simple, be happy!  Don’t worry!  Tomorrow is another day.

Solomon and field grass (Mt 6:29-6:30)

“Yet I tell you!

‘Even Solomon,

In all his glory,

Was not clothed

Like one of these.

But if God clothes

The grass of the field,

Which is alive today,

But tomorrow is thrown

Into the oven,

Will he not much more

Clothe you?

You of little faith!’”

 

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων.

εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, ὀλιγόπιστοι;

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:27-28, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Matthew has Jesus utter his solemn saying (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν) that King Solomon in all his glory (ὅτι οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ) did not have better looking clothing than these field flowers (περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων).  In 1 Kings, chapter 10:1-5, the Queen of Sheba remarked about the wonderful clothes of King Solomon and his palace.  God, and not the Father, clothes the field grass that is here today (εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα) and gone tomorrow by being thrown into the furnace or oven (καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον).  This use of “κλίβανον,” oven or furnace, is unique to Matthew and Luke here.  Would God, not the Father, not take care of their clothing needs (ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον)?  Obviously, they were men of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι).  This word about little faith was a favorite term for Matthew, since he used it 5 times more, with only the Luke parallel here the only other usage in the New Testament.

They all go to Egypt (Jer 43:4-43:7)

“So Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

With all the people,

Did not obey

The voice of Yahweh,

To stay in the land of Judah.

But Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

Took all the remnant of Judah,

Who had returned

To settle in the land of Judah

From all the nations

To which they had been driven.

This included

The men,

The women,

The children,

The princesses,

As well as everyone

Whom Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Had left with Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

This also included

The prophet Jeremiah

With Baruch,

The son of Neriah.

They came into the land of Egypt.

They did not obey

The voice of Yahweh.

They arrived at Tahpanhes.”

Jeremiah recounts that Johanan with all his commanders did not obey the voice of Yahweh to stay in Judah. They then took all the remnant of those people who had returned to Judah from the other countries to be with the former governor of Judah, Gedaliah. Thus they took the men, women, children, with the royal princesses and all those that the Babylonian captain Nebuzaradan had handed over to Gedaliah to take care of. This group also included Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch. They all ended up at the Egyptian border town of Tahpanhes. Interesting enough, Jeremiah, who loved Babylon, went to Egypt instead. It did not take 40 years to go from Israel to Egypt in this reverse Exodus.

Universal death (Jer 25:33-25:33)

“Those slain

By Yahweh

On that day

Shall extend

From one end of the earth

To the other.

They shall not be lamented.

They shall not be gathered.

They shall not be buried.

They shall become dung

On the surface of the ground.”

There will be a lot of people killed on that day. They will lay all over the earth from one end to another. This last part is similar to chapter 8 of this work, where people would not be gathered or buried, but rather scattered on the ground like dung. There would be just too many dead people with not enough people alive to take care of them.

Oppression (Eccl 5:8-5:9)

“If you see in a province

The oppression of the poor

If you see

The violation of justice,

The violation of rights,

Do not be amazed at the matter.

The high official

Is watched by a higher.

There are yet higher ones

Over them.

But all things considered,

There is an advantage

To a land

To have a king

For a plowed field.”

In a strange sort of remark, Qoheleth says to watch out for oppression. However, he does not seem to ask for any kind of action. If someone is oppressed and there is injustice, just don’t be amazed. Someone is in charge. They have to report to someone else even higher up. It is good to have a bureaucracy. They will take care of things like that. After all, there is an advantage in having a king to rule over cultivated or plowed fields. You can avoid the minor skirmishes that take place.