The ancient pre-historic patriarchs (Lk 3:37-3:37)

“The son of Methuselah,

The son of Enoch,

The son of Jared,

The son of Mahalaleel,

The son of Cainan.”

 

τοῦ Μαθουσαλὰ τοῦ Ἐνὼχ τοῦ Ἰάρετ τοῦ Μαλελεὴλ τοῦ Καϊνὰμ

 

These names are listed in 1 Chronicles 1:2-1:3, and Genesis, chapter 5.  This group from Adam to Noah is sometimes referred to as the patriarchs before the flood, or what some might call pre-historic times, since there is very little evidence of their actual existence.  Luke said Lamech was the son of Methuselah (τοῦ Μαθουσαλὰ), the son of Enoch (τοῦ Ἐνὼχ), the son of Jared (τοῦ Ἰάρετ), the son of Mahalaleel (τοῦ Μαλελεὴλ), the son of Cainan (τοῦ Καϊνὰμ).  Methuselah was the father of Lamech.  He supposedly lived to the age of 969, longer than Adam.  Thus, it became a saying that an old man was as “old as Methuselah.”  His father was Enoch, who lived to be only 365 years old, a big drop off in age here.  However, Enoch walked with God, so that there was this strange remark that God took him, not that he died.  He was considered the seventh generation, the lucky number.  In fact, there is a Book of Enoch, from around 200 BCE, that some considered canonical.  Jared was the father of Enoch.  Mahalalel was the father of Jared.  Kenan or Cainan was the father of Mahalalel.

The days of Noah (Mt 24:37-24:39)

“As in the days of Noah were,

So too,

Will be the coming

Of the Son of Man.

As in those days,

Before the flood,

They were eating.

They were drinking.

They were marrying.

They were giving in marriage,

Until the day

When Noah

Entered the ark.

They knew nothing

Until the flood came.

It swept them all away.

Thus,

Will be the coming

Of the Son of Man.”

 

ὥσπερ γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ Νῶε, οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου

ὡς γὰρ ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες, γαμοῦντες καὶ γαμίζοντες, ἄχρι ἧς ἡμέρας εἰσῆλθεν Νῶε εἰς τὴν κιβωτόν

καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν ἕως ἦλθεν ὁ κατακλυσμὸς καὶ ἦρεν ἅπαντας, οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

 

There is something similar, almost word for word, in Luke, chapter 17:26-28, but nothing about Noah in Mark.  The days of Noah in Genesis, chapters 6-11, (ὥσπερ γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ Νῶε) were considered to be days of sinfulness.  The Parousia or second coming of the Son of Man (οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) would be similar to the end of the sinning days with the flood (ὡς γὰρ ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ).  They were eating (τρώγοντες), drinking (καὶ πίνοντες), marrying (γαμοῦντες), and giving in marriage (καὶ γαμίζοντες) right up until the day when Noah entered the ark (ἄχρι ἧς ἡμέρας εἰσῆλθεν Νῶε εἰς τὴν κιβωτόν).  They knew nothing (καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν) until the flood came (ἦλθεν ὁ κατακλυσμὸς) and hit them by sweeping them all away (καὶ ἦρεν ἅπαντας).  Thus, it will be like that when the Son of Man comes again at the Parousia (οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου).  Just as at the flood in the time of Noah put an end to the sinfulness of men and brought about a new creation, so too would the coming Parousia of the Son of Man bring an end to sinfulness and inaugurate a new kind of creation.

Do not murder (Mt 5:21-5:21)

“You have heard

That it was said

To those in ancient times.

‘You shall not murder!’

Whoever murders

Shall be liable

To judgment.”

 

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις Οὐ φονεύσεις· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει.

 

Next Matthew has Jesus expand on the individual commandments. The first of these was killing or murder. Human life was important, as first outlined in Genesis, chapter 4:1-16, in the Cain and Abel story, as well as in chapter 9:5-6, after the Flood. They already knew this basic commandment, since they had heard what had been told to their ancient ancestors (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). This was the simple commandment not to murder or kill anyone (Οὐ φονεύσεις) from the Ten Commandments in Exodus, chapter 20:13 and Deuteronomy, chapter 5:17, as well as in Exodus, chapter 21:12-17, where there was a section on homicide. There were consequences for anyone who murdered someone else (ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ). They were responsible for their actions. They were liable to be brought to judgment (ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει). This judgment would be before a Jewish court. There were a series of things that had to be done when a murder occurred, as outlined in Deuteronomy, chapter 21:1-9. The law about murder was fairly clear.

The anointed one was cut off (Dan 9:26-9:27)

“After the sixty-two weeks,

An anointed one

Shall be cut off.

He shall have nothing.

The troops

Of the prince,

Who is to come,

Shall destroy

The city.

He shall destroy

The sanctuary.

Its end shall come

With a flood.

To the end,

There shall be war.

Desolations are decreed.

He shall make

A strong covenant

With many

For one week.

For half

Of the week,

He shall make

Sacrifices cease.

He shall make

Offerings cease.

In their places,

There shall be an abomination

That desolates,

Until the decreed end

Is poured out

On the desolator.”

Well, that was a simple explanation by Gabriel! After 62 weeks, the anointed one would be cut off. In fact, there is some agreement that this anointed one was the high priest Onias III, who was deposed in 175 BCE. The prince coming to destroy him was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary. It is unclear what the flood was about. Obviously, there was a war and the Maccabees uprising. The covenant for one week might mean 7 years, and ½ a week might mean 3 ½ years, the time when the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple. Instead, they had the terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols. Finally, this all came to an end.

The curse on the earth (Isa 24:4-24:6)

“The earth dries up.

It withers.

The world languishes.

It withers.

The heavens languish

Together with the earth.

The earth lies polluted

Under its inhabitants.

They have transgressed laws.

They have violated the statutes.

They have broken the everlasting covenant.

Therefore a curse devours the earth.

Its inhabitants suffer

For their guilt.

Therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled.

Few people are left.”

This oracle of Isaiah says that the earth and the heavens were drying up and withering away. The earth was polluted by its inhabitants. Does that sound familiar? They had transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the eternal covenant. The Mosaic laws and statutes only pertained to the Israelites. However, the eternal covenant came after the flood for all people. Thus everyone was guilty. Yahweh was going to curse all the earth and its inhabitants because of their guilty ways. A lot of people would be wiped out, but a few would be left, like the “Left Behind” series of books, movies, and video games by Tim LaHaye (1926-2016).

The rainbow (Sir 43:11-43:12)

“Look at the rainbow!

Praise him

Who made it!

It is exceedingly beautiful

In its brightness.

It encircles the sky

With its glorious arc.

The hands of the Most High

Have stretched it out.”

Sirach now points out the beauty of the rainbow, after a rainfall. He wants us to look at it. He wants us think about who made it, since it is exceeding beautiful and bright. The half circle arc seems to go into the sky. If you were in Ireland you might go look for some gold at the end of the rainbow. There have been popular songs about rainbows. Sirach indicates that the hands of the Most High God have stretched it out. In fact, it was considered a sign of the covenant between Yahweh and Noah, after the flood in Genesis, chapter 9, but that is not mentioned here. Neither is there any indication of the various colors that reflect the sun’s rays through the rain clouds that has become a symbol of diversity.

Problems caused by sinful humans (Sir 40:8-40:11)

“With all human creatures,

With all animal creatures,

But with sinners seven times more,

Come many problems.

There is death.

There is bloodshed.

There is strife.

There is the sword.

There are calamities.

There are famines.

There are afflictions.

There are ruins.

There are plagues.

All these were created

For the wicked.

On their account,

The flood came.

All that is of earth

Returns to earth.

What is from above,

Returns above.”

Sirach points out that all creatures, human and animals, have problems, but the sinners have 7 times as many problems as the non-sinners. What are these problems? They are death, bloodshed, strife, the sword, calamities, famines, ruin, and plagues. The reason that we have all these problems is due to the wicked ones who caused God to send the flood. In other words, we might have been okay except for the sinful humans who brought all these problems to our earthly existence. The things of this earth return to this earth, while the things from above return to above.

Historical punishments for sin (Sir 16:6-16:14)

“In an assembly of sinners,

A fire is kindled.

In a disobedient nation,

Wrath blazes up.

The Lord did not forgive

The ancient giants

Who revolted in their might.

He did not spare the neighbors of Lot,

Whom he loathed

On account of their arrogance.

He showed no pity

On the doomed nation,

On those disposed because of their sins.

He showed no pity

On the six hundred thousand foot soldiers,

Who assembled in their stubbornness.

Even if there were only one stiff-necked person,

It would be a wonder

If he remained unpunished.

Mercy is with the Lord.

Wrath is with the Lord.

He is mighty to forgive,

But he also pours out wrath.

As great as his mercy,

So also is his chastisement.

He judges a person

According to his or her deeds.

The sinner will not escape with plunder.

The patience of the godly

Will not be frustrated.

He makes room for every act of mercy.

Everyone receives in accordance

With his or her deeds.”

Sirach mentions the people and the groups from the Torah that were punished for their sins. A destroying fire will rage where sinners or disobedient nations are gathered. The Lord did not forgive the ancient giant Nephilim people in Genesis, chapter 6, before the flood. The Lord did not forgive the evil arrogant Sodomite neighbors of Lot in Genesis, chapter 19. He did not have pity on the disposed Canaanites in Joshua. The 600,000 Israelites in the desert revolted against Moses in Numbers, chapter 16. Not one person gets away with being a stiff-necked proud person. They will not go unpunished. The Lord has both mercy and anger. He judges according to the deeds of the people. No sinner will escape. The patience of the godly will run thin. While there is room for mercy, everyone will receive punishment based on their deeds.

Tower of Babel and Abraham (Wis 10:5-10:5)

“Wisdom also,

When the nations in wicked agreement

Had been put to confusion,

Recognized the righteous man.

She preserved him

Blameless before God.

She kept him strong

In the face of his compassion

For his child.”

Here there seems to be a link with the Tower of Babel and Abraham. Once again in this abridgment of Genesis, there is a leap from chapter 11 about the Tower of Babel and Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac in chapter 22. Obviously, we then have this abbreviated history of mankind that jumps from Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, to Noah and the flood, without explicitly mentioning their names. Now the jump is from the Tower of Babel to Abraham. Here it is wisdom and not God who caused the confusion as the men were building the high tower. She also recognized and preserved Abraham as the strong righteous man who was blameless before God (ἄμεμπτον Θεῷ). Just as the idea of God dominates over wisdom, she, wisdom, is the one who had compassion for the child (τέκνου) of Abraham, Isaac.

The flood (Wis 10:4-10:4)

“When the earth was flooded

Because of him,

Wisdom again saved it.

She steered the righteous man

By a paltry piece of wood.”

The flood seems to occur as in Genesis, chapters 6-8, because of Cain and his descendents. There is jump from Cain directly to the flood. It was wisdom (σοφία) and not God that saved the righteous men (τὸν δίκαιον) with a puny piece of wood (εὐτελοῦς ξύλου), what we call the ark.