Zechariah’s turn to burn incense (Lk 1:9-1:9)

“Zechariah

Was chosen by lot,

According to the custom

Of the priesthood.

He was to enter

The sanctuary

Of the Lord

To burn incense.”

                                                                     

κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας ἔλαχε τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου,

 

Luke pointed out that not only was his group of priests on duty, Zechariah was also chosen by lot (ἔλαχε), as was the priestly custom (κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας), to enter the sanctuary of the Lord (εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου) to burn incense (τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι).  Apparently, as mentioned elsewhere, choosing by lot or chance was a fairly common way to make decisions, since God would guide the choice.  This Levite priestly custom meant that Zechariah got to enter the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary of the Temple, where he would burn incense, a big honor.

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The choice (Jer 38:18-38:20)

“‘However,

If you do not surrender

To the officials

Of the king of Babylon,

Then this city

Shall be handed over                                                          

To the Chaldeans.

They shall burn it

With fire.

You yourself

Shall not escape

From their hand.’

King Zedekiah said

To Jeremiah.

‘I am afraid

Of the Judeans

Who have deserted

To the Chaldeans.

I might be handed over

To them.

They would abuse me.’

Jeremiah said.

‘That will not happen.

Just obey

The voice of Yahweh

In what I say to you.

It shall go well

With you.

Your life shall be spared.’”

Jeremiah reminded King Zedekiah that if he did not surrender to the Babylonians, the Chaldeans would capture the city of Jerusalem and burn it. The king would not escape from them either. However, the king was afraid that some of the Judeans had gone over to the Chaldeans. They might want to attack him if he surrendered. Once again, Jeremiah reassured him. He said that Yahweh would not let that happen. Everything would go well with him, if he surrendered. However, if he was captured after a battle, all bets were off.