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.

Peace or the sword (Mt 10:34-10:34)

“Do not think

That I have come

To bring peace

To the earth.

I have not come

To bring peace,

But a sword.”

 

Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:51, indicating a Q source.  Luke said that Jesus had come to bring division, not a sword, like here.  Jesus was a disrupter.  They should not think (Μὴ νομίσητε) that Jesus has come to bring peace on earth (ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).  He has not come to bring peace (οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην), but quite the opposite, to bring the sword (ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν), much like the Old Testament Hebrew prophets, especially Ezekiel, chapter 38:21.  The sword meant war not peace.  Jesus was not a peacemaker, but a sign of contraction.

Do not swear (Mt 5:34-5:36)

“But I say to you!

‘Do not swear at all!

Either by heaven,

It is the throne of God,

Or by the earth,

It is his footstool.

Do not swear

By Jerusalem!

It is the city

Of the great king.

Do not swear

By your head!

You cannot

Make one hair

White or black.’”

 

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως· μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ Θεοῦ·

μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ· μήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου Βασιλέως·

μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς, ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν.

 

Matthew has this unique presentation where Jesus has a solemn saying (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) about ending all oaths, which would have been radical for his time.  They were not to swear by anything at all (μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως).  They should not swear by heaven (μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ) since that is the throne of God (ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  They should not swear by earth (μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ) since that is the footstool for the feet of God (ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ).  They should not swear by Jerusalem (μήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα) since that is the city of the great king (ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου Βασιλέως).  They should not swear or take an oath by their own head (μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς) since they could not change one hair of their head to black or white (ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν).  This was a blanket statement.  There would be no more taking oaths, no more swearing by anything, anywhere.

 

The third beatitude about the meek or the humble (Mt 5:5-5:5)

“Blessed are

The meek!

They shall inherit the earth.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν.

 

Matthew relied heavily on Psalm 37:11 here, where the psalmist said that they should be patient with Yahweh.  They were not to be angry.  The meek (οἱ πραεῖς), the humble ones, those who wait patiently on Yahweh, their God, would inherit the earth (ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν), the holy land of Israel.  You have to wait a little bit, but the wicked would be no more.  The meek, on the other hand, would inherit the holy land, where they would live in abundant prosperity, if only they waited.  They would be the happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι).

 

The Christian Code of Love

The gospel code of love and the beatitudes are prevalent.  The Jewish Hebrew Ten Commandments remain as the basic tenets of most Christian Churches.  However, nearly every Christian Church has laws or directives that are specific to their denomination or to their particular local Church.  Creation is good, and man is responsible for the earth, so that there is a need for justice and love.

Yahweh’s creation (Zech 12:1-12:1)

“An Oracle.

The word of Yahweh

Concerning Israel.

Thus says Yahweh.

He stretched out the heavens.

He founded the earth.

He formed the human spirit

Within.”

Yahweh had an oracle about Israel.  Yahweh was the great creator.  He had stretched out the heavens and founded the earth.  He even placed the human spirit within people.

Yahweh will not have pity (Zech 11:6-11:6)

“Says Yahweh.

‘I will no longer have pity

On the inhabitants

Of the earth.

I will cause

Every one of them

To fall,

Each into the hand

Of a neighbor,

Each into the hand

Of his king.

They shall devastate

The earth.

I will deliver no one

From their hand.’”

Yahweh was clear here.  There would be no pity on any of the inhabitants of the earth.  All of them would fall into the hands of his or her neighbor or king.  If you were the good neighbor, you won, since the others fell into your hand.  The earth would be devastated.  No one would be saved.  Either they died in civil wars or the kings killed them.