Only the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 15:23-15:24)

“But Jesus

Did not answer her

At all.

His disciples came.

They urged him,

Saying.

‘Send her away!

She keeps shouting

After us.’

He answered.

‘I was sent only

To the lost sheep

Of the house of Israel.’”

 

ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῇ λόγον. καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἠρώτουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες Ἀπόλυσον αὐτήν, ὅτι κράζει ὄπισθεν ἡμῶν.

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Οὐκ ἀπεστάλην εἰ μὴ εἰς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ.

 

This saying of Jesus is unique to Matthew, thus, not in the Mark narrative.  Jesus did not respond to her with any words at all (ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῇ λόγον).  However, his disciples came to him to tell him to implore or urge her (καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἠρώτουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες) to go away (Ἀπόλυσον αὐτήν), because she was shouting after them (ὅτι κράζει ὄπισθεν ἡμῶν),  Then Jesus answered (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Οὐκ ἀπεστάλην εἰ μὴ εἰς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ), not to other people.  However, Jesus had cured the Roman centurion’s servant in chapter 8:5-13.

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These twelve apostles were for the Jews (Mt 10:5-10:7)

“Jesus sent out

These twelve,

With the following instructions.

‘Go nowhere

Among the Gentiles!

Enter no town

Of the Samaritans!

But go rather

To the lost sheep

Of the house of Israel!

Preach as you go!

Saying,

‘The kingdom of heaven

Is at hand.’”

 

Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων Εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε·

πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ

πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

There is no exact equivalent to this exclusive mission to the Jews, that this is unique to Matthew.  Jesus sent out these 12 apostles (Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He commanded them with specific instructions (παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων).  They were to stay away from the gentiles (Εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε).  They were not allowed to enter any Samaritan town either (καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε).  Thus, they had to stay away from the gentiles and the Samaritans.  Their mission, however, was to go to the lost sheep in the house of Israel (πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ).  They were to go and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν).  This is exactly the same teaching as John the Baptist, word for word, as in chapter 3:2.  Matthew had John say that the kingdom of heaven (γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) was at hand, coming near (ἤγγικεν).  Notice that Matthew did not say the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of heaven.  In fact, it is in the plural, heavens.  This connection of the message of John and Jesus is very strong here in Matthew.

Sinners will die (Am 9:9-9:10)

“I will command!

I will shake

The house of Israel

Among all the nations,

As one shakes

With a sieve.

But no pebble

Shall fall

To the ground.

All the sinners

Of my people

Shall die

By the sword.

They say.

‘Evil shall not overtake

Or meet us.’”

Yahweh was going to command and shake the house of Israel among all the countries in the world.  He was going to shake them like a sieve.  However, no pebble would fall to the ground.  All the sinners among his people would die by the sword.  Who were these sinners?  These were the ones who said that evil would not overtake or meet them.

Amaziah (Am 7:10-7:10)

“Then Amaziah,

The priest of Bethel,

Sent to King Jeroboam

Of Israel,

Saying.

‘Amos has conspired

Against you

In the very center

Of the house of Israel.

The land is not able

To bear

All his words.’”

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, went to see King Jeroboam II to tell him that Amos was conspiring against him, right in the heartland of the house of Israel. He said that the people of the land should not hear his words. Obviously, this indicated that Amos was prophesizing before 743 BCE, the death of King Jeroboam II.

The terrible punishment (Am 6:12-6:14)

“Do horses run

On rocks?

Does one plow the sea

With oxen?

But you have turned

Justice

Into poison.

You have turned

The fruit of righteousness

Into wormwood.

You who rejoice

In Lo-debar!

You who say,

‘Have we not

By our own strength

Taken Karnaim

For ourselves?’

Indeed,

I am raising up

Against you

A nation.

O house of Israel!’

Says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

They shall oppress you

From Lebo-Hamath

To the Wadi Arabah.”

Amos asked whether horses could run on rocks? Do you send oxen to plow the sea? While this may seem stupid, it is not sillier than turning justice into poison or the sweetness of righteousness into the bitterness of wormwood, which the Israelites had done. While the Israelite King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE) had captured Lo-debar and Karnaim on the west side of the Jordan, that happiness would come to an end. They thought that they had done it by themselves. Now Yahweh, the God of heavenly armies, was going to send the Assyrians to wipe out the northern kingdom of the house of Israel, from its northern border in Syria at Lebo-Hamath to the southern border of the Wadi Arabah. Yahweh, the God of heavenly hosts, would put an end to the northern kingdom of Israel.

Seek Yahweh (Am 5:4-5:6)

“Thus says Yahweh

To the house of Israel.

‘Seek me!

Live!

But do not seek Bethel!

Do not enter into Gilgal!

Do not cross over to Beer-sheba!

Gilgal shall surely go into exile!

Bethel shall come to nothing!

Seek Yahweh!

Live!

Otherwise,

He will break out

Against the house of Joseph,

Like fire.

It will devour Bethel,

With no one to quench it.’”

Amos has Yahweh tell the house of Israel to seek him, so that they might live. However, they were not to seek Yahweh at the religious places of the idols at Bethel or Gilgal, since nothing would come of that. They were not to go to Beer-sheba either, which was south of Judah, like a resort place. Instead, they were to seek out Yahweh, so that they could live. Yahweh was going to break out against the house of Joseph, Ephraim, and devour Bethel, the capital city, with a fire that no one could put out.

The defiled prostitution (Hos 6:10-6:10)

“In the house of Israel,

I have seen a horrible thing.

Ephraim’s prostitution

Is there.

Israel is defiled.”

The house of Israel has committed a terrible thing. They have allowed the prostitution of Ephraim to continue. Thus, the northern kingdom of Israel has defiled itself, with their false worship of other gods.