The birds do not worry (Mt 6:26-6:27)

“Look at the birds

Of the air!

They do not sow.

They do not reap.

They do not gather

Into barns.

Yet your heavenly Father

Feeds them.

Are you not

Of more value than they?

Can any of you,

By worrying,

Add a single hour

To your life span?”

 

ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν εἰς ἀποθήκας, καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά· οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν;

τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα;

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:24-26, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Luke called the birds ravens.  Matthew has Jesus tell his disciples to look and see the birds of the heavenly skies (ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  The word “οὐρανοῦ” means heaven, sky, or air.  These birds do not sow or scatter (ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν), reap or harvest (ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν), or gather crops (οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν) into a granary or barn (εἰς ἀποθήκας).  They are freeloaders.  Yet they are able to eat off the land, because the heavenly Father feeds them (καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά).  Are the disciples or followers of Jesus not more valuable than these birds (οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν)?  Is worrying going to add one cubit or one hour to your life span or age (τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα).  Probably, the opposite is true.  Don’t worry!  Be happy!

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The bitter wrathful day of Yahweh (Zeph 1:14-1:16)

“The great day of Yahweh

Is near,

Near,

Coming fast.

The sound of

The day of Yahweh

Is bitter.

The warrior

Cries aloud there.

That day will be

A day of wrath,

A day of distress,

A day of anguish,

A day of ruin,

A day of devastation,

A day of darkness,

A day of gloom,

A day of clouds

A day of darkness,

A day of trumpet blast,

A day of battle cry,

Against the fortified cities,

Against the lofty battlements.”

The day of Yahweh was to be a day of wrath and doom, as can be found also in Amos, chapter 5 and Isaiah, chapter 2.  This great day for Yahweh was coming right away, very soon.  This bitter sound was in the air, as the warriors cried out loudly with their battle cry against the fortified cities and their secure fortresses.  This was a day of wrath, distress, anguish, ruin, devastation, darkness, gloom, clouds, and a trumpet blast, certainly not a happy day.  Thus, the natural connection to death formed the inspiration for the medieval funeral hymn, Dies Irae, Latin for the day of wrath.

The terrible situation in the land (Hos 4:2-4:3)

“There is swearing.

There is lying.

There is murder.

There is stealing.

Adultery breaks out.

Bloodshed follows bloodshed.

Therefore,

The land mourns.

All who live in it

Languish.

The wild animals,

Together with

The birds of the air,

Even the fish of the sea,

Are perishing.”

Hosea explained how bad the situation was in Israel. First, the place was full of sin with swearing, lying, murder, and stealing. Adultery was all over the place, with bloodshed everywhere. Thus, the land and its people mourned. Everyone who lived there was languishing. The wild animals, the birds of the air, and even the fish of the sea were perishing or dying. Death was in the air.

The false pursuits (Bar 3:15-3:19)

“Who has found

Her place?

Who has entered

Her storehouses?

Where are the rulers

Of the nations?

Where are those

Who lorded it over

The animals on earth?

Where are those

Who have made sport

Of the birds of the air?

Where are those

Who hoarded up

Silver with gold

In which people trust ?

Where are those

With no end

To their getting?

Where are those

Who schemed

To get silver?

Where are those

Who are anxious?

There is no trace

Of their works.

They have vanished.

They have gone down

To Hades.

Others have arisen

In their place.”

Baruch talks about the vanity and uselessness of various life pursuits as in wisdom literature. What happens to people who store up treasures in a storehouse? Where are all the rulers of the various nations? Where are all the people who felt superior to animals. Where are the sportsmen who tried to shoot the birds in the air with their arrows? What happened to all those who hoarded up and put their trust in silver and gold? Where are all the people who never had enough? Where are those who schemed to get silver? Where are all the people who were so anxious? Baruch’s response is simple and clear. There is no trace of any of these people and their works. They have vanished and gone to hell, Hades, the Greek word for Sheol, the shadowy underworld that we often call hell. However, there are always others to take their place to do the same thing over and over again.