Pluck out your eye (Mk 9:47-9:47)

“If your eye

Causes you

To stumble,

Tear it out!

It is better

For you

To enter

The kingdom of God

With one eye

Than to have

Two eyes

To be thrown into hell.”

 

καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε, ἔκβαλε αὐτόν· καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν

 

This saying about it being better to be blind in one eye can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:9, almost word for word.  This warning was almost the same as the warning about the stumbling hand and foot.  Jesus then spoke about the problem of wandering eyes.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your eye causes you to stumble or sin (καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε), cast it out, gouge it out, or pluck it out (ἔκβαλε αὐτόν).  It would be better for you to enter the kingdom of God (εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ) blind in one eye or one eyed (καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον) than to have two eyes (ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς) but thrown into Gehenna or hell (ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν).  The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom.  That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off with one eye than being in these hell fires with two eyes.  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block or snare was, get rid of it, even if it is your eye.  This message was clear.  One eyed, one foot, or one hand was better than eternal fire.

Be careful with your holy treasures (Mt 7:6-7:6)

“Do not give

What is holy

To the dogs!

Do not throw

Your pearls

Before swine!

They will trample them

Under foot.

They will turn on you.

They will attack you.”

 

Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσίν, μηδὲ βάλητε τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων, μή ποτε καταπατήσουσιν αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῶν καὶ στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν ὑμᾶς.

 

This is a Jesus saying, only found here in Matthew.  They were not to give holy things (Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον) to the wild despised dogs (τοῖς κυσίν).  They were not to cast their pearls (μηδὲ βάλητε τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν) in front of the equally hated swine, hogs, or pigs (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων).  If they did, these dogs and pigs would trample with their feet (μή ποτε καταπατήσουσιν αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῶν) on the sacred Temple meat and pearls.  These animals might turn on them to tear them to pieces (καὶ στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν ὑμᾶς).  Be careful around dogs and pigs.

The role of the remnant of Jacob (Mic 5:7-5:9)

“Then the remnant of Jacob,

Surrounded by many people,

Shall be

Like dew from Yahweh,

Like showers on the grass.

They do not depend

Upon people,

Nor wait for any mortal.

The remnant of Jacob,

Among the nations,

Surrounded by many people,

Shall be

Like a lion

Among the beasts of the forest,

Like a young lion

Among the flocks of sheep.

When it goes through,

It treads down.

It tears in pieces.

No one would deliver them.

Your hand shall be lifted up

Over your adversaries.

All your enemies

Shall be cut off.”

The remnant of Jacob, those in captivity, would be both a blessing and a curse to those around them.  They would be surrounded by many people from different countries.  However, they would be independent of other people, since they would be like the gentle dew from Yahweh or quiet rain showers on the grass.  However, they could also be like a lion among the beasts of the forest or a lion attacking a flock of sheep.  If they were attacking sheep, they would tread on them and tear them to pieces.  They would surely act like lions against their enemies.  Thus, the remnant of Jacob could be a force for goodness or an attacking lion.

Yahweh poses questions about the withering vine (Ezek 17:9-17:10)

“Say!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Will the vine prosper?

Will he not pull up

Its roots?

Will this cause

Its fruit to rot?

Will it wither?

Will its fresh sprouting leaves

Fade?

No strong arm

Or mighty army

Will be needed

To pull it

From its roots.

When it is transplanted,

Will it thrive?

When the east wind

Strikes it,

Will it not utterly wither?

Will it wither

On the bed

Where it grew?’”

Yahweh then posed a series of questions about this vine that was transplanted by the second eagle. Would this vine prosper in the new place, after it was pulled up by its roots? Would its fruit be rotten? Would it wither away? Sometimes letting a vine wither is easier than having a strong army come in and try to tear it up. Would the east wind be too strong for this vine? Basically Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was casting doubts about transplanting this vine.

Yahweh against the prophetess’s activities (Ezek 13:20-13:21)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh God.

‘I am against

Your bands

With which you hunt lives.

I will tear them

From your arms.

I will let the lives

Go free

Like the lives

That you hunt down

Like birds.

I will tear off

Your veils.

I will save my people

From your hands.

They shall no longer

Be prey

In your hands.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh was opposed to the activities of the prophetesses. He was against their so-called magical arm bands. He was going to tear them off their arms. He was going to let free, those whom they were hunting. How they were hunting them was not clear. Perhaps, it was some kind of voodoo. These people would be set free like birds. He was also going to tear off their veils or kerchiefs. Yahweh was going to save his people from them, so that they would not be prey in their hands anymore. They would learn to know that he was God, Yahweh.

The king reacts (Jer 36:24-36:26)

“Yet neither the king,

Nor any of his servants,

Who heard

All these words,

Was afraid.

They did not tear

Their garments.

Even when Elnathan,

Delaiah,

With Gemariah

Urged the king

Not to burn the scroll,

He would not listen to them.

The king commanded

Jerahmeel,

The king’s son,

With Seraiah,

The son of Azriel,

To arrest

The secretary Baruch

With the prophet Jeremiah.

But Yahweh hid them.”

Neither the king of Judah, King Jehoiakim, nor his servants, was alarmed by the words of the scroll. They did not tear their garments as a sign of sorrow or repentance. Instead, the king burned the scroll in its various pieces as mentioned above, despite the protests of some of his senior officials like Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah, who had demanded the first reading, earlier in this chapter. They did not want the king to burn the scroll, but he would not listen to them. Instead, he sent his son Jerahmeel with his friend Seraiah, someone in the royal service, to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah. However, Yahweh hid them, but it is not clear where or how.

The basket of good figs (Jer 24:4-24:7)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

Like these good figs,

So I will regard as good

The exiles from Judah.

I have sent them away

From this place

To the land of the Chaldeans.

I will set my eyes

Upon them for good.

I will bring them back

To this land.

I will build them up.

I will not tear them down.

I will plant them.

I will not pluck them up.

I will give them a heart

To know

That I am Yahweh.

They shall be my people.

I will be their God.

They shall return to me

With their whole heart.’”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, explained to Jeremiah that the basket of good figs referred to those who had gone into exile in 598 BCE, not those who had remained in Judah. The Babylonians or the Chaldeans had taken them. Yahweh was going to bring these good people back from their exile. He was again going to plant them in this land, since he was not going to tear them down. Their hearts would know Yahweh. Thus they would be his people and he would be their God. They would return to Yahweh with their whole hearts.