The parable of the lost sheep (Mt 18:12-18:13)

“What do you think?

A shepherd

Has a hundred sheep.

If one of them has gone astray,

Does he not leave

The ninety-nine

On the mountains?

He goes in search

Of the one that went astray.

If he finds it,

Truly!

I say to you!

He rejoices over it

More than over the ninety-nine

That never went astray.”

 

Ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; ἐὰν γένηταί τινι ἀνθρώπῳ ἑκατὸν πρόβατα καὶ πλανηθῇ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν, οὐχὶ ἀφήσει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη καὶ πορευθεὶς ζητεῖ τὸ πλανώμενον;

καὶ ἐὰν γένηται εὑρεῖν αὐτό, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι χαίρει ἐπ’ αὐτῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα τοῖς μὴ πεπλανημένοις.

 

This parable of the lost sheep can also be found in Luke, chapter 15:3-6, with some minor changes.  In some Orthodox texts there is a line that the Son of Man had come to save those who were lost or destroyed (Ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός).  Jesus then asked them to think (Τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ) about this parable, although he did not call it a parable like Luke did.  A person or shepherd had 100 sheep (ἐὰν γένηταί τινι ἀνθρώπῳ ἑκατὸν πρόβατα).  One of these sheep wandered away from the rest of them and was lost (καὶ πλανηθῇ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν).  Thus, would he not leave the other 99 sheep in the mountains (οὐχὶ ἀφήσει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη)?  He would then search for the lost sheep that had wandered astray (καὶ πορευθεὶς ζητεῖ τὸ πλανώμενον).  Jesus then had a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  If he found that one sheep (καὶ ἐὰν γένηται εὑρεῖν αὐτό) he would rejoice over that more than over the 99 sheep that had never wandered away (ὅτι χαίρει ἐπ’ αὐτῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα τοῖς μὴ πεπλανημένοις).  Every sheep was precious in the sight of this good shepherd.

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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.

Yahweh controls the earth (Hab 3:9-3:10)

“You split the earth

With rivers.

The mountains saw you.

They writhed,

As a torrent of water

Swept by.

The deep

Gave forth its voice.

It raised high its hands.”

Yahweh split the earth with various rivers, since he controlled everything on earth.  When the mountains saw Yahweh, they writhed as they twisted and squirmed, since they were swept away by torrential waters.  The deep sea had its own voice.  Thus, it raised its hands to Yahweh in compliance, because Yahweh controlled the deep sea as well as the land, the hills, and the rivers.

The lamentation for Assyria (Nah 3:18-3:19)

“Your shepherds

Are asleep!

O king of Assyria!

Your nobles slumber!

Your people are scattered

On the mountains!

There is no one

To gather them!

There is no assuaging

Your hurt!

Your wound is mortal!

All who hear

The news of you,

Clap their hands

Over you.

Who has ever escaped

Your endless cruelty?”

It almost seems like Yahweh, via Nahum, was sorry about the situation in Assyria.  Nahum has a lament for their situation.  Nahum said that all their leaders or shepherds were asleep, while their nobles also slumbered.  The people had been scattered to the mountains, with no one to gather them back.  They had suffered a mortal wound.  Unfortunately, everyone who heard the news about them were clapping their hands in joy.  Assyria would never escape from its cruel position.  Ding dong, Assyria was dead.

The good news of peace (Nah 1:15-1:15)

To Judah

“Look

On the mountains!

The feet of one

Brings good tidings.

He proclaims peace!

Celebrate your festivals!

O Judah!

Fulfil your vows!

Never again,

Shall the wicked

Invade you!

They are utterly cut off.”

Nahum wanted Judah to look to the mountains, where there was someone bringing good news that there would be peace.  Now, they could celebrate their festivals and fulfill their vows at the Temple.  Never again, would anyone wicked invade them, because all their enemies were cut off.

The rich fertile land (Joel 3:18-3-18)

“In that day,

The mountains shall drip

Sweet wine.

The hills shall flow

With milk.

All the stream beds

Of Judah

Shall flow with water.

A fountain shall come forth

From the house of Yahweh.

It will water

The valley of Shittim.”

In the day of Yahweh, the mountains would drip a sweet wine, while the hills would flow with milk. There would be multiple streams of water in Judah to make the land fertile. In fact, a fountain would flow from the house of Yahweh to the Shittim valley that was in Moab.

A description of the day of Yahweh (Joel 2:2-2:2)

“The day of Yahweh

Will be

A day of darkness,

A day of gloom,

A day of clouds,

A day of

Thick darkness!

It will be

Like blackness

Spread

Upon the mountains.

A great,

Powerful army

Comes.

Their like has never been

From of old,

Nor will be again,

After them,

In ages to come.”

Joel described the day of Yahweh. It would be a cloudy day of darkness and gloom. There would be a thick black darkness spread over the mountains. A great powerful army would come. They would be like no other army before or afterwards. This day of Yahweh bears a resemblance to the large swarm of locusts that created the impression of a dark day because of their huge numbers.