Jesus give thanks and distributes the bread (Mt 15:35-15:36)

“Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took the seven loaves

And the fish.

He gave thanks.

He broke them.

He gave them

To the disciples.

Then the disciples

Gave them

To the crowds.”

 

καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν

ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

 

Mark, chapter 8:6-7, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving blessing and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground, instead of earlier on the grass (καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).  This was going to be like a large picnic.  He took the seven loaves and the fish (ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας).  He gave thanks or eucharized them (καὶ εὐχαριστήσας) and broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to the disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς).  Then the disciples gave them to the crowds (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις).  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 14:19.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  The process is pretty much the same.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.

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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.

Yahweh will sweep away everything (Zeph 1:2-1:3)

“‘I will utterly sweep away

Everything

From the face

Of the earth.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will sweep away

Humans.

I will sweep away

Animals.

I will sweep away

The birds of the air.

I will sweep away

The fish of the sea.

I will make the wicked

Stumble.

I will cut off

Humanity

From the face of the earth.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh said that he was going to undo his creation.  He was going to sweep away everything on the face of the earth.  He was going to do away with all humans and animals, as well as all the birds in the air and the fish in the sea.  The wicked would stumble, as all humanity would be wiped out.

The terrible situation in the land (Hos 4:2-4:3)

“There is swearing.

There is lying.

There is murder.

There is stealing.

Adultery breaks out.

Bloodshed follows bloodshed.

Therefore,

The land mourns.

All who live in it

Languish.

The wild animals,

Together with

The birds of the air,

Even the fish of the sea,

Are perishing.”

Hosea explained how bad the situation was in Israel. First, the place was full of sin with swearing, lying, murder, and stealing. Adultery was all over the place, with bloodshed everywhere. Thus, the land and its people mourned. Everyone who lived there was languishing. The wild animals, the birds of the air, and even the fish of the sea were perishing or dying. Death was in the air.

The turbulence at the presence of Yahweh (Ezek 38:20-38:20)

“They all,

The fish of the sea,

The birds of the air,

The animals of the field,

All creeping things

That creep on the ground,

All human beings

That are on the face

of the earth,

Shall quake

At my presence.

The mountains

Shall be thrown down.

The cliffs shall fall.

Every wall

Shall tumble

To the ground.”

There was going to be a great turbulence when Yahweh showed up in Israel. Everyone and everything would shake at his presence. This included the fish, the birds, the creeping things, and all the humans on the face of the earth. The mountains and the cliffs would also fall down. All the walls would tumble to the ground. Yahweh’s presence would be like an earthquake.

Learn from the world around you (Job 12:7-12:10)

“Ask the animals?

They will teach you.

Ask the birds of the air?

They will tell you.

Ask the plants of the earth?

They will teach you.

The fish of the sea will declare to you.

Who among all these does not know

That the hand of Yahweh has done this?

In his hand is the life of every living thing.

In his hand is the breath of all mankind.”

Job wanted his friends to ask the animals, the birds, the plants, and the fish, so that they can learn something. All these non-humans know about the hand of Yahweh and what he has done to every living thing. There is an ecological approach as the animals, birds, plants, and fish are given cognition. They, almost better than humans, know the power of God. The hand of life is in every living thing. God’s hand is the breath of all mankind and every living thing. This reminds me of the old song, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” This is the only mention of Yahweh in this book except for the wisdom poem in chapter 28.