The forty day fast (Lk 4:2-4:2)

“For forty days,

Jesus was tempted

By the devil.

He ate nothing

At all

During those days.

When these days

Were over,

He was very hungry.”

 

ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν.

 

This text is like Matthew, chapter 4:2, almost word for word, indicating a common source, perhaps Q.  Luke said that Jesus was tempted (πειραζόμενος) for 40 days (ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα) by the devil (ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου).  During this time or in those days (ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις), Jesus did not eat anything at all (Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν), since he was fasting.  When the 40 days were over or completed (καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν), Jesus was really hungry or famished (ἐπείνασεν).  There was a symbolism in this fast of 40 days.  Luke did not mention 40 nights, like Matthew.  Fasting was a common Hebrew exercise, while 40 was the same number of years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  Jesus was really hungry at the end of his 40 day fast.  The devil, the personification of evil, tempted Jesus.  Mark, chapter 1:13, has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, and Luke.  All 3 synoptics agreed that Jesus was in the wilderness 40 symbolic days.  All agreed that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil, the adversary or the accuser.  This concept of the adversary showed the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile.  The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong.  Mark said that Jesus was with the wild beasts, but this remark was not found in the other longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke.  Mark made it seem like the temptation was physical, like the fear of wild animals, as he then said that the good angels ministered to Jesus, waiting on him and taking caring for him.

Temptations in the wilderness (Mk 1:13-1:13)

“Jesus was

In the wilderness

Forty days.

He was

Tempted by Satan.

He was

With the wild beasts.

The angels

Ministered to him.”

 

καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.

 

Mark has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, chapter 4:2-11, and Luke, chapter 4:2-13.  Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days (καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας).  All 3 synoptics agree on the 40 days, since there was a symbolism to this number with the 40 years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  All agree that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil (πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ).  Satan was the adversary or the accuser after the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile.  The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong.  Sometimes the devil was referred to as the personification of evil.  Why was Jesus tempted?  God, the Father, Yahweh, often tested the righteous ones and the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.  Luke and Matthew are very similar with their detailed account of these 3 temptations.  Mark does not mention Jesus fasting or any of the 3 specific detailed temptations that are in Luke and Matthew.  Jesus was with the wild beasts (καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων), but this remark was not found in the longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke, only here.  Mark makes it seem like the temptation was physical or like the fear of wild animals.  Then the angels ministered to him (καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ).  This is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 4:11, but there were no angels ministering to Jesus in Luke, chapter 4:13.  Here, a number of angels came, as in 1 Kings, chapter 19:4-8, where an angel came to help Elijah when he was in the desert, as the shadow of Elijah appeared in many of these gospel stories.  These angels came to wait on and care for Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah and John (Mt 3: 3-3:3)

“This is the one

Of whom

The prophet Isaiah

Spoke

When he said.

‘The voice of one crying out

In the wilderness.

Prepare

The way of the Lord!

Make his paths straight!’”

 

οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.

 

Matthew followed Mark who introduced John as a fulfilment of a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah. However, the text from Mark, chapter 1:2, was a composite of texts from Isaiah, Malachi and Exodus. Matthew, as well as Luke, dropped the first part of these references. However, Luke, chaper 3:4-6, has a more extended citation from Isaiah. Matthew began with the modified quotation from Isaiah, chapter 40:3, while he moved the Malachi and Exodus material to later in the text, where Jesus quoted them. However, it was clear that John the Baptist was the one (οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς) that Isaiah the prophet was talking about (διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος). He was the messenger being sent ahead. He was a voice crying out in the wilderness (Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ). He was to prepare the way for the Lord (Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου,). He was going to make the paths straight (εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ). Deutero-Isaiah originally talked about a voice in the wilderness leading to a new path out of the Exile, in this oracle of Yahweh, just as there had been a path out of the Exodus. In this wilderness or desert, they were to make a straight path, like a highway for God or the Holy Way. However, this would also be a time of upheaval. The valleys would rise as the mountains and hills would fall, so that the uneven and rough places would become level and plain. All the people would then see the glory of God revealed. Clearly, there was a connection between John the Baptist and Isaiah the prophet.

Christians reading the Old Testament

The Old Testament Hebrew Bible raises questions of interpretation for a Christian.  To what extent am I, as a Christian, projecting Christian views and values on the children of Israel, the people of Israel, the Israelites?  There are various terms that translators have used to describe the slowing forming group of Yahweh believers over three thousand years ago.  Yahweh was their God and intervened in their lives.  They had a special relationship or covenant with him.  The Hebrew sacred writings were incorporated into Christianity because all the early Christians were Jewish.  However, the writings were not originally meant for Christians, but for the Hebrew people.  Can I really fully understand the Semitic thought process of three thousand years ago?  Will I be able to appreciate how important the promised land of Israel was to Jewish people?  What role did the exodus from Egypt, the Temple, the exile, and the various codes play in their lives?  I can try, but I doubt if I will be fully successful.

Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.

Title (Zeph 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

That came to Zephaniah,

Son of Cushi,

Son of Gedaliah,

Son of Amariah,

Son of Hezekiah,

In the days

Of King Josiah,

Son of Amon,

Of Judah.”

As with many other prophets, the word of Yahweh came to Zephaniah.  However, there is a long description of his lineage.  He was the son of a Cushi that could mean a Cushite, an Ethiopian, or a dark-skinned person.  There was a Gedaliah who was a governor of Israel after the exile, but the setting is earlier here.  There 9 different people with the name of Amariah mentioned in the biblical literature.  This one could have been the son of King Hezekiah of Judah who ruled from 716-687 BCE.  That is quite possible since Zephaniah was a prophet during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) who was the son of King Amon (642-640 BCE).  Thus, Zephaniah may have been a prophet with royal blood.