They bring the head of John the Baptist (Mk 6:27-6:28)

“Immediately,

The king

Sent a soldier

Of the guard.

He gave orders

To bring John’s head.

He went.

He beheaded him

In the prison.

He brought

His head

On a platter.

He gave it

To the girl.

Then the girl

Gave it

To her mother.”

 

καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ,

καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 14:10-11.  Mark said that King Herod immediately sent out one of his guard to be an executioner (καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα).  He commanded him to bring back the head of John the Baptist (ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ).  He sent his executioner guard to behead John in the prison at Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  This guard beheaded John in the prison (καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ).  It is not clear whether they waited around for the head of John to come back.  Beheading was one of the ways to make sure a person was dead.  Then John’s head was brought on a platter or dish to Herod (καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι).  He then gave it to the girl (καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ), who then gave it to her mother (καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς), Herodias.  This was her revenge against John the Baptist, because he had criticized her marriage to Herod.  Off with his head!

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Debts (Mt 5:25-5:26)

“Come to terms quickly

With your accuser,

While you are

On the way

To court.

Otherwise,

Your accuser

May hand you over

To the judge.

The judge

May hand you over

To the guard.

You will be

Thrown into prison.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘You will never get out

Until you have paid

The last penny.’”

 

ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου ταχὺ ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ· μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ, καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ, καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ·

ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην.

 

Jesus, via Matthew, had some common-sense advice that seems to come from the common source Q, since Luke, chapter 12:58-59, has almost exactly the same saying.  If you had a court case, try to settle it quickly before you get to court with the person that you owed money to.  You should be agreeable to your accuser (ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου).  You should try to solve this case with your accuser on the way to court (ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ).  Otherwise, this accuser would turn you over to a judge (μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ), who would in turn send you to a guard (καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ), who would throw you into jail or a prison (καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ).  Then Matthew has this solemn statement of Jesus (ἀμὴν λέγω σοι), just like Luke.  You would never get out of jail (οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν) until you have paid off the last κοδράντην (ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην).  This κοδράντην was a 1/10 of a drachma, about .03 cents, generally translated as a penny.  Settle your debts before you go to court!

The response of Daniel (Dan 1:11-1:13)

“Then Daniel

Asked the guard,

That the palace master

Had appointed over

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

‘Please test your servants

For ten days!

Let us be given vegetables

To eat

As well as water

To drink!

You can then compare

Our appearance

With the appearance

Of the young men

Who eat the royal rations.

Deal with your servants

According to

What you observe!’”

Daniel had a plan. He was going to ask the guard that the palace master had assigned over him and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for a favor. He wanted to have a 10-day test. They would only eat vegetables and water. Then after 10 days, the guard could compare their appearance to the others who were eating the royal food. At that point, Daniel would leave it up to the guard to decide what was best for the four of them.

Cry for the children (Lam 2:19-2:19)

Qoph

“Arise!

Cry out

In the night,

At the beginning

Of the watches!

Pour out

Your heart

Like water

Before the presence

Of Yahweh!

Lift your hands

To him

For the lives

Of your children.

They faint

For hunger

At the head

Of every street.”

This author wanted everyone to cry to Yahweh at night, at the beginning of every watch change of the guard. However, there was nothing to guard. They were to pour out their heart like water before Yahweh. They were to pray with outstretched hands for the children who were fainting with hunger on every street corner in town. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Qoph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.