The response of Jesus about divorce (Mt 19:8-19:9)

“Jesus said to them.

‘It was because

You were so hard-hearted

That Moses allowed you

To divorce your wives.

But from the beginning,

It was not so.

I say to you!

Whoever divorces his wife,

Except for sexual immorality,

Then marries another,

Commits adultery.’”

 

λέγει αὐτοῖς Ὅτι Μωϋσῆς πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν ἐπέτρεψεν ὑμῖν ἀπολῦσαι τὰς γυναῖκας ὑμῶν· ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς δὲ οὐ γέγονεν οὕτως.

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην, μοιχᾶται.

 

This questioning and answering of the Pharisees about divorce can also be found partially in Mark, chapter 10:5, where there was no equivalent verse about an exception.  Jesus responded to the Pharisees (λέγει αὐτοῖς).  He said that Moses allowed them to divorce their wives (Ὅτι Μωϋσῆς …ἐπέτρεψεν ὑμῖν ἀπολῦσαι τὰς γυναῖκας ὑμῶν) because they were so hard-hearted, perverse, and obstinate (πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν).  However, as he had noted earlier, this was not so from the beginning, (ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς δὲ οὐ γέγονεν οὕτως).  Then in a solemn proclamation (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν) he said that whoever divorced his wife and married another woman committed adultery (ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ…καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην, μοιχᾶται), except for the sexual immorality or fornication (μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ) of his wife.  Jesus had taken the stronger stance of no divorce, but gave one exception, the sexual misconduct of the wife, much like some of the stricter Jewish rabbis at that time.

Against Lachish (Mic 1:13-1:13)

“Harness the steeds

To the chariots!

Inhabitants of Lachish!

It was here that

The beginning of sin came

To the daughter of Zion.

The transgressions

Of Israel

Were found in you.”

Lachish was the most famous and well know city of the Shephelah low land area of Israel.  Lachish was the 2nd most important city in Judah, but not a holy city like Jerusalem.  This might indicate that these other towns were close to Lachish in the same area.  The people of Lachish were to get their horses and chariots ready, because they were the cause of the sin and the beginning of the transgressions for Zion and Israel.  The Assyrians had captured this city in 701 BCE.

All praise God (Dan 13:63-13:64)

“Hilkiah,

With his wife,

Praised God

For their daughter,

Susanna.

Joakim,

Her husband,

Also praised God.

All her relatives

Praised God.

She was found innocent

Of a shameful deed.

From that day onward,

Daniel

Had a great reputation

Among the people.”

Of course, this story has a happy ending. Hilkiah and his wife praised God because their daughter had been found innocent of this shameful deed. Also, her husband Joakim, who had been in the background, praised God. All of Susanna’s relatives were praising God, because Susanna was not found guilty. From that day on, Daniel had a great reputation, another reason why this might be better off at the beginning of this work.

Joakim (Dan 13:1-13:1)

“There was a man

Living in Babylon

Whose name was Joakim.”

This chapter 13 story only appears in the Greek Septuagint version of the Book of Daniel. Thus, this story of Susanna and Daniel is sometimes called apocryphal literature. It probably should be at the beginning of this work, since it presents Daniel as a young man, but it is usually placed here at the end. This story is about the wife of Joakim, a Jewish man living in exile in Babylon. The name Joakim means that the Lord will establish him.

Seventy years of desolation (Dan 9:2-9:2)

“In the first year

Of his reign,

I,

Daniel,

Perceived

In the books,

According to the word

Of Yahweh

To Jeremiah,

The prophet,

The number of years,

That must be fulfilled

For the devastation

Of Jerusalem,

Namely,

Seventy years.”

This chronology would put this event at about 538 BCE, right near the beginning of the Persian or Mede rule. Daniel, using the first-person singular, seemed to be familiar with the prophet Jeremiah, chapters 25 and 29, although they were almost contemporaries. Thus, 70 years of desolation was coming to Jerusalem from 587-517 BCE.

The battle with King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 34:1-34:1)

“The word

That came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh,

When King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

With all his army,

As well as all

The kingdoms of the earth,

All the people

Under his dominion,

Were fighting

Against Jerusalem

With all of its cities.”

Once again, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, but there is a different setting, the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar was going to fight against Jerusalem, as well as the towns and cities around it. At this point, the Babylonian king had a lot of people under him with a huge army. Besides his own army, other kingdoms under his control were also fighting with him against Jerusalem. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 41, not chapter 34 as here.

Yahweh controls the future (Isa 46:8-46:10)

“Remember this!

Consider this!

Recall it to mind!

You transgressors!

Remember the former things of old!

I am God!

There is no other!

I am God!

There is no one like me!

I declare the end

From the beginning,

From ancient times,

Things not yet done.”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh remind people about his ability to see the future. He wants them to remember and consider that they are transgressors. He is God and there is no other like him. He has declared from the beginning, in ancient times, things that had not yet happened. He knew the future.

The call of Isaiah in 742 BCE (Isa 6:1-6:1)

“In the year

That King Uzziah died,

I saw Yahweh

Sitting on a throne,

High and lofty.”

Now we have the call of Isaiah. Should this not have been at the beginning of this book? Here it is found with a series of oracles about the war with the Assyrians. King Uzziah, also known as King Azariah, had been King of Judah from around 792-742 BCE, about 50 years. He ruled first with his father King Joash and then with his son King Jotham, when he was struck with leprosy, as noted in 2 Kings, chapter 15, and 2 Chronicles, chapter 26. In this vision, Isaiah saw Yahweh sitting on his high lofty throne in the Temple in the year aht King Uzziah had died, 742 BCE.

Eulogy for famous holy men (Sir 44:1-44:2)

“Let us now sing the praises

Of famous men,

Our ancestors,

In their generations.

The Lord apportioned to them

Great glory.

The Lord apportioned to them

His majesty from the beginning.”

Sirach then turned to a hymn to honor all his famous holy ancestors from past generations. Their lives, like the saints of the later Christian tradition, illustrated the glory of God. Notice how all are male. In their own generations, they were glorified by the Lord so that his majesty might shine in their lives from the beginning. For those familiar with the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” will recognize this verse from the opening scenes of the movie at the memorial services.

The hymn of praise (Sir 39:16-39:21)

“All the works of the Lord

Are very good.

Whatever he commands

Will be done

At the appointed time.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

At the appointed time,

All such questions

Will be answered.

At his word,

The waters stood in a heap.

The reservoirs of water

Stop in a heap

At the word of his mouth.

At his commands,

His every purpose is fulfilled.

None can limit his saving power.

The works of all

Are before him.

Nothing can be hidden

From his eyes.

From the beginning

To the end of time,

He can see everything.

Nothing is too marvelous for him.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

Everything has been created

For its own purpose.”

Sirach begins this hymn of praise to the Lord by saying that all his works are very good. The Lord commands everything in his own time. No one should question him with what is this or why is it that way. All the questions will be answered at the appropriate time. He made the waters and the reservoirs of water stand in a heap. No one can limit his saving power since all his commands get followed. He sees everything, since nothing can be hidden from him, since the beginning of time to the end of time. Nothing is too marvelous for him. Therefore no one should question the Lord because everything has a purpose.