The prayer of Zechariah (Lk 1:68-1:68)

“Blessed be the Lord!

The God of Israel!

He has looked favorably

On his people.

He has redeemed them.”

 

Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,

 

Luke then had this so-called Benedictus prayer, based on the Latin translation of Εὐλογητὸς.  At the same time, this prayer is a prophesy also.  First, Zechariah was thankful for all the people of Israel, not just himself.  He used the familiar blessing that David said to Abigail in 1 Samuel, chapter 25:32, and to Solomon in 1 Kings, chapter 1:48.  Solomon used this same blessing in 1 Kings, chapter 8:35.  He said that the Lord was blessed (Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος).  He was the God of Israel (ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ) who had visited, intervened, or looked favorably (ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο) on his people (τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,), since he has saved or brought them redemption (καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν).  Zechariah had a sense of what the scope of John’s birth would be on all Israel, not just his family.  He implied that salvation or redemption had already taken place with the birth of his son John, not waiting for Jesus.

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The Qumran prayer of thanksgiving (Sir 51:13-51:20)

“Give thanks to the good Lord!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of praises!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the guardian of Israel!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who formed all things!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the redeemer of Israel!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who gathers the dispersed of Israel!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who rebuilt his city and sanctuary!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who makes a horn to sprout

For the house of David!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who had chosen the sons of Zadok

To be priests!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the shield of Abraham!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the rock of Isaac!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the mighty one of Jacob!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who has chosen Zion!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the King of the kings of kings!

His mercy endures forever.

He has raised up a horn for his people.

Praise for all his loyal ones.

The children of Israel praise the Lord!

The people close to him praise the Lord!”

This is called the Qumran hymn of thanksgiving because this Hebrew hymn was found in a Qumran cave there, but not in the Greek text. It is very reminiscent of Psalm 136, with the repeated chant of “his mercy endures forever.” However, they are thankful for other things than in Psalm 136. Obviously the Lord is good and merciful. The Lord is the guardian and redeemer of Israel who formed all things. However, he now has gathered the dispersed Israelites. He has rebuilt the Temple and the sanctuary. He has protected the royal sprout of David, but also the priestly sons of Zadok. The Lord also gave the shield of Abraham, the rock of Isaac, and the mighty Jacob. He chose Zion for the king of kings. He raised up a horn of plenty for his people and those loyal to him. Thus the children of Israel and those close to him should praise the Lord.

Those who receive much should be generous (Greek text only)

“Many people,

The more they are honored

With the most generous kindness of their benefactors,

The more proud they become.

They not only seek to injure our subjects,

But in their inability to stand prosperity,

They even undertake to scheme against their own benefactors.

They not only take away thankfulness from others,

But carried away

By the boasts of those who know nothing of goodness,

They even assume that they will escape

The evil-hating justice of God,

Who always sees everything.

Often many of those

Who are set in places of authority

Have been made in part responsible

For the shedding of innocent blood.

They have been involved in irremediable calamities.

By the persuasion of friends

Who have been entrusted

With the administration of public affairs,

These men by the false trickery

Of their evil natures

Beguile the sincere goodwill of their sovereigns.”

Once again, this is found in the Greek text only, not in the Hebrew text. Some people have been blessed by God and benefactors. However, they can become proud. They sought to injure our Persian subjects and even their own benefactors. They are not thankful but evil in the sight of God who sees everything. This is especially bad when irresponsible authorities try to shed blood. By false trickery and their evil nature they beguile the goodwill of kings. This is a veiled reference to Haman, since this and the other decree are both from the same person, King Artaxerxes. He cannot contradict himself, since Haman wrote the first decree and Mordecai wrote this one.