The evil generation gets the sign of Jonah (Mt 16:4-16:4)

“An evil

And adulterous generation

Asks for a sign.

But no sign

Will be given to it,

Except the sign of Jonah.’

Then he left them.

He went away.”

 

γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ, καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ. καὶ καταλιπὼν αὐτοὺς ἀπῆλθεν.

 

This saying about the evil generation and the sign of Jonah can be found in Mark, chapter 8:12-13, and Luke, chapter 11:29, and earlier in Matthew, chapter 12:38, plus here, but there are slight differences.  Jesus said that they were an evil and adulterous generation (γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς) because they were asking for a sign (σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ).  However, no sign would be given to them (καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ), except the sign of Jonah (εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ).  There was no further explanation as earlier in chapter 8:12-13, but Matthew used exactly the same words as in the earlier saying.  Here, he simply went away and left them there (καὶ καταλιπὼν αὐτοὺς ἀπῆλθεν.) to figure things out.  Jonah, chapter 1:17, was where the prophet was in the belly of the whale or the sea monster for 3 days and 3 nights.  The obvious comparison between the 3 days and the 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians.  This was a clear allusion to the death of Jesus in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights before his resurrection.  But there was no attempt to make it clear here.

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The sign of Jonah (Mt 12:39-12:40)

“But Jesus answered them.

‘An evil

And adulterous generation

Asks for a sign.

But no sign shall be given

To it,

Except the sign

Of the prophet Jonah.

Just as Jonah was three days

And three nights

In the belly of the sea monster,

Thus,

For three days

And three nights

The Son of man

Will be

In the heart of the earth.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ, καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ τοῦ προφήτου.

ὥσπερ γὰρ ἦν Ἰωνᾶς ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας, οὕτως ἔσται ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ τῆς γῆς τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας.

 

This saying about the sign of Jonah can also be found in Luke, chapter 11:29-30, so that perhaps this is a Q source.  Once again, Q and Matthew went back to their Old Testament roots, using the story of the prophet Jonah, chapter 1:17, where he was in the belly of the whale or the sea monster for 3 days and 3 nights.  The obvious comparison between the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians.  Jesus answered the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  He called them an evil and adulterous generation (Γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς).  Why were they asking for or seeking signs (σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ)?  The only sign they were going to get was the sign of the prophet Jonah (καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ τοῦ προφήτου).  He had been in the belly of the sea monster or whale that swallowed him for 3 days and 3 nights (ὥσπερ γὰρ ἦν Ἰωνᾶς ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας).  Thus, the Son of Man would be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth (οὕτως ἔσται ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ τῆς γῆς τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας).  This was a clear allusion to the death of Jesus in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights before his resurrection.

Pick up your cross (Mt 10:38-10:38)

“Whoever does not

Take up the cross

And follow after me

Is not worthy of me.”

 

καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 14:27, indicating a Q source.  Matthew had Jesus repeat this remark in chapter 16:24, about the same theme of unworthiness.  Mark, chapter 8:34 has the carrying of the cross as a condition of discipleship.  If you did not take up his cross (καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ) and follow after Jesus (καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου), you were not worthy of Jesus (οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος).  This assumes knowledge of the cross and suffering of Jesus.  To be a follower of Jesus, you had to follow him and take up his cross.  The cross was the Roman way of punishment and execution.  After the death and resurrection of Jesus, it became a symbol of the death of Jesus on the cross.

Primitive Christian Communities

The early followers of Jesus were his Jewish apostles and disciples.  They formed a close-knit community.  As they ventured out of Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Jesus, they formed other small groups of Christian communities.  During the first century of Christianity, we often refer to these Christians as the Primitive Christian Communities, not really a church yet, but described in the Acts of the Apostles.  As far as we know, these Jewish followers of Jesus prayed in the Temple and the synagogues.  They shared their stories about Jesus and his followers with other Jewish groups.  Out of this oral community will come the written documents of the New Testament.

 

Daniel is safe (Dan 14:40-14:42)

“On the seventh day,

The king came

To mourn

For Daniel.

When he came

To the den,

He looked in.

There sat Daniel.

The king shouted

With a loud voice.

‘You are great!

O Lord!

God of Daniel!

There is no other

Besides you!’

Then he pulled

Daniel out.

He threw into the den

Those who had attempted

His destruction.

They were instantly eaten

Before his eyes.”

Thus, ends the great story of Daniel. On the 7th day, the king came to mourn the death of Daniel. Instead, he was surprised to see Daniel sitting in the den of lions. Then the king shouted out his praise for the God of Daniel, the Lord. There were no other gods like him. Next, he pulled Daniel out of the den. Finally, he threw those who had attempted the destruction of Daniel into the lion’s den. The lions immediately ate these men right before the eyes of the king.

The allegory of the young lion (Ezek 19:1-19:4)

“As for you!

Raise up

A lamentation

For the princes of Israel!

Say!

‘What a lioness

Was your mother

Among lions!

She lay down

Among young lions,

Rearing her cubs.

She raised up

One of her cubs.

He became

A young lion.

He learned

To catch prey.

He devoured humans.

The nations sounded

An alarm

Against him.

He was caught

In their pit.

They brought him

With hooks

To the land of Egypt.”

Now Ezekiel has an allegorical poetic lamentation for the officials and princes of Israel. There was a lioness mother who took care of her cubs. Apparently this is an allusion to Judah, the lioness. One of them became a young lion who learned how to catch prey. In fact, he devoured some humans. Other countries got upset. They then caught him in a pit. They hooked him and brought him to Egypt. Who is this young lion that was brought to Egypt? This may be a reference to King Jehoahaz (609 BCE) who was captured, after the death of his father, King Josiah (640-609 BCE).

The reading of the book (Bar 1:3-1:4)

“Baruch read

The words

Of this book

To King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

King of Judah.

He read it

To all the people

Who came

To hear the book.

He read it

To the nobles,

To the princes,

To the elders,

To all the people,

Small and great,

All who lived

In Babylon

By the river Sud.”

Baruch was accustomed to reading aloud as he had done in Jeremiah, chapter 36. Here he is reading his book to King Jeconiah (598 BCE) in exile in 582 BCE, and not King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE). King Jeconiah was also known as King Coniah or King Jehoiachin, who ruled for less than a year after the death of his father King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE). As in Jeremiah, Baruch read this book publically to anyone who wanted to hear it. He also read it to all the important people in Babylon that included the nobles, the princes, and the elders, those great and small. There was no mention of the Babylonian king here. As for the Sud River, no one seems to know where that was.