Herod was afraid of John the Baptist (Mt 14:4-14:5)

“John had been telling him.

‘It is not lawful

For you to have her.’

Though Herod

Wanted to put him

To death,

He feared the crowd,

Because they regarded John

As a prophet.”

 

ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάνης αὐτῷ Οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν αὐτήν.

καὶ θέλων αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι ἐφοβήθη τὸν ὄχλον, ὅτι ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εἶχον.

 

This mention of Herod being afraid of John the Baptist can be found only in Mark, chapter 6:18-20, and here.  John had called out Herod for his marriage with Herodias, his brother’s recently divorced wife.  John had told Herod (ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάνης αὐτῷ) that It was not lawful for him to have her as his wife (Οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν αὐτήν).  Even though Herod wanted to put John to death (καὶ θέλων αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι), he was afraid of the large crowds of people (ἐφοβήθη τὸν ὄχλον), because they regarded John as a prophet (ὅτι ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εἶχον).

The spiritual sense of Bible reading

Most Christians read the Bible in a spiritual sense, trying to find its deeper spiritual meaning.  What can the Bible do to help my spiritual life?  What is the deeper significance of a particular text?  What is it telling me about God and Jesus?  How do the Old and New Testament fit together?  How were the prophecies fulfilled?  Are there any allusions to Christ in the Old Testament?  Can I find an allegorical sense to various stories?

Do not worry (Dan 12:9-12:12)

“He said.

‘Go your way!

Daniel!

The words are

To remain secret.

They are to be sealed

Until the time of the end.

Many shall be

Purified,

Cleansed,

Refined.

But the wicked

Shall continue

To do wickedly.

None of the wicked

Shall understand.

But those who are wise

Shall understand.’”

The man in the linen clothes told Daniel not to worry.  Daniel was to go on his way.  These words were secret.  Thus, they would be sealed up until the end times.  Many had to be purified, cleansed and refined until then.  The wicked would continue to do wicked things, since they have no understanding.  However, the wise ones understand what is going on.  This is a kind of back handed slap at Daniel, since he claimed he did not understand what the angel had been telling him.

Jeremiah says that the king will live (Jer 38:17-38:17)

“Then Jeremiah said

To King Zedekiah.

‘Thus says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

The God of Israel!

If you will surrender

To the officials

Of the king of Babylon,

Then your life

Shall be spared.

This city

Shall not be burned

With fire.

You

With your house

Shall live.’”

Jeremiah told King Zedekiah what Yahweh, the God of hosts, the God of  Israel, had said. If he surrendered to the officials of the Babylonian king, then his life would be spared. Jerusalem would not be burned down. He and his whole household would be able to live. In other words, Jeremiah was telling the king of Judah to surrender to the king of Babylon.

Ebed-melech rescues Jeremiah from the cistern (Jer 38:10-38:13)

“Then the king commanded

The Ethiopian Ebed-melech.

‘Take three men with you

From here!

Pull the prophet Jeremiah

Up from the cistern

Before he dies.’

So Ebed-melech took the men

With him.

They went

To the house of the king,

To a wardrobe

Of the storehouse.

They took from there

Old rags

With worn-out clothes.

Then he let them down

To Jeremiah

In the cistern

By ropes.

Then the Ethiopian Ebed-melech

Said to Jeremiah.

‘Just put the rags

With the clothes

Between your armpits

And the ropes.’

Jeremiah did so.

Then they drew Jeremiah up

By the ropes.

They pulled him

Out of the cistern.

Jeremiah remained

In the court of the guard.”

The vacillating King Zedekiah responded to the Ethiopian Ebed-melech by telling him to take 3 men with him in order to pull Jeremiah from the cistern well. The king had told the men who put Jeremiah in the well that they could do with him whatever they wanted to do. So then Ebed-melech took the 3 men. They went to the royal wardrobe in the palace. He then took some old rags and worn out clothes. When he arrived at the pit, he told Jeremiah to put these old rags or clothes between the rope and his arm pits. Thus he would not hurt himself coming out of this well. Then the 4 of them pulled him up out of the well. However, Jeremiah was then sent back to the house arrest jail in the royal court of the guard. King Zedekiah had let his officials try to kill Jeremiah, yet he sent his eunuch to save him. The result was that Jeremiah was back in jail again, as if nothing had happened.

The death of the false prophets (Jer 29:21-29:23)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts,

The God of Israel,

Concerning Ahab,

The son of Kolaiah,

As well as Zedekiah,

The son of Maaseiah.

‘They were prophesying a lie

To you in my name.

I am going to deliver them

Into the hand

Of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

He shall kill them

Before your eyes.

On account of them,

This curse shall be used

By all the exiles from Judah

In Babylon.

‘Yahweh makes you

Like Zedekiah,

Like Ahab,

Whom the king of Babylon

Roasted in the fire.’

Because they have

Perpetuated outrage

In Israel.

They have committed adultery

With their neighbors’ wives.

They have spoken in my name

Lying words

That I did not command them.

I am the one who knows.

I bear witness.

Says Yahweh.’”

Yahweh talked about two prophets whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon roasted in a fire. These two prophets were Ahab, the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, the son of Maaseiah. There was a king of northern Israel in the 9th century (874-853 BCE) named King Ahab with his wife Jezebel, who had confrontations with the prophet Elijah, as found in 1 Kings, chapters 16-22. However, this Ahab is only mentioned here. Zedekiah has the same name as the current king of Judah. His father Maaseiah was also the father of the priest Zephaniah, mentioned in chapter 21. This Zedekiah is not mentioned elsewhere either. These two prophets were prophesying lies that Yahweh had not commanded, so that they deserved to be killed by the king of Babylon. We do not know exactly what lies they were telling, but they also were adulterers. They may have tried to rebel against the king. Thus their names would be a curse.

Do not listen to false predictions (Jer 27:9-27:11)

“‘Therefore

You must not listen

To your prophets,

To your diviners,

To your dreamers,

To your soothsayers,

To your sorcerers.

If they are saying to you.

‘You shall not serve

The king of Babylon.’

They are prophesying

A lie to you.

The result will be

That you will be removed

Far from your land.

I will drive you out.

You will perish. But any nation

That will bring its neck

Under the yoke

Of the king of Babylon,

Thus serve him,

I will leave on its own land.

They will till it.

They will live there.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has an oracle of Yahweh about the false prophets who are telling the people not to obey the king of Babylon. Whether it is a prophet, a diviner, a dreamer, a soothsayer, or a sorcerer, who tell them not to serve the king of Babylon, they are prophesying lies. If they listened to these liars, Yahweh was going to drive them out of their land, so that they would perish. However, if any country was to put on the yoke of Babylon and serve its king, Yahweh was going to let them stay on their own land, live there, and till the soil. There is no doubt that Yahweh was on the side of the King of Babylon, as presented here.

 

The false happy prophets (Jer 23:16-23:18)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Do not listen

To the words of the prophets

Who prophesy to you.

They are deluding you.

They speak visions

Of their own minds.

These are not

From the mouth of Yahweh.

They keep saying

To those

Who despise the word of Yahweh.

‘It shall be well with you.’

To those

Who stubbornly follow

Their own stubborn hearts,

They say.

‘No calamity

Shall come upon you.’

Who has stood

In the council of Yahweh?

Were they able to see his word?

Were they able to hear his word?

Who has given heed to his word?

Who has proclaimed it?”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, does not want the people to listen to the false prophets, because they are deluding the people with their lies and subjective visions. Their words are not from Yahweh. They keep telling people not to worry since everything will be okay, even though the people stubbornly follow their own hearts. They keep telling the people that no harm was going to come to them. These were the happy delusional prophets. Have they stood in the council of Yahweh? They never saw or heard the word of Yahweh. As they never followed the word of Yahweh, how were they able to proclaim it?

Yahweh will answer you (Isa 30:19-30:22)

“Yes!

O people in Zion!

Inhabitants of Jerusalem!

You shall weep no more!

He will surely be gracious to you

At the sound of your cry.

When he hears it,

He will answer you.

Even though Yahweh may give you

The bread of adversity

With the water of affliction,

Yet your teacher

Will not hide himself any more.

But your eyes shall see your teacher.

When you turn to the right

Or when you turn to the left,

Your ears shall hear

A word behind you,

Saying.

‘This is the way!

Walk in it!’

Then you will defile

Your silver-covered idols.

Then you will defile

Your gold-plated images.

You will scatter them

Like filthy rags.

You will say to them.

‘Away with you!’”

This seems to be an oracle from the time of the Exile about the future restoration of Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem will weep no more, because Yahweh will be gracious to their cry and answer them. There will be adversity and affliction. However, your teacher will no longer hide himself from you as you will be able to see him. This teacher may have been a prophet. Then as you turn to the right or the left, you will hear his words from behind you telling you the correct way to walk on the straight path. That is when you will defile the silver and golden idols and images that you had. You will scatter them like filthy rages as you will throw them away. Apparently idol worship was prevalent in Jerusalem itself.

Teaching a fool (Sir 22:9-22:10)

“Whoever teaches a fool is

Like one who glues potsherds together.

Whoever teaches a fool is

Like one who rouses a sleeper

From deep slumber.

Whoever tells a story to a fool

Tells it to a drowsy man.

At the end

He will say.

‘What is it?’”

Sirach says that whoever tries to teach a fool is like one trying to glue pieces of a broken pottery jar back together. Potsherds are broken pottery pieces. Thus this task would be like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Teaching a fool is like trying to wake someone up from a deep sleep. Even telling a story is useless, because the fool is like a half-asleep drowsy person who says at the end of the story, “What was that again?” Basically, trying to teach a fool is a waste of time. However, it is not totally impossible, but extremely difficult and challenging.