Joseph goes to Nazareth (Mt 2:23-1:23)

“There Joseph

Made his home

In a town called

Nazareth.

Thus,

What was spoken

Through the prophets

Might be fulfilled.

‘He will be called a Nazorean.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ· ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

 

Joseph took his family to a specific place in lower Galilee, a city called Nazareth (ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ). Somehow, this fulfilled a prophecy (ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν) about being called a Nazarene (ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται). Some of Jesus’ followers were called Nazarenes. He was also known as Jesus of Nazareth since this was his childhood home. People have been living in Nazareth for nearly 5.000 years, with over 75,000 people today, as the largest Arab city in Israel. Nazareth may have had a population of about 400 at the time of Jesus. The town of Nazareth is about 20 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about 6 miles west of Mount Tabor, but over 100 miles from Jerusalem. It is difficult to pinpoint where this prophecy comes from. In Judges, chapter 13:2-7, there is a comment that a boy will be a Nazirite from birth, so that no one should cut his hair. Thus, he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. According to Numbers, chapter 6:1-21, there were rules laid out for those who would take the Nazirite vows. They would not drink wine, nor shave their beards. They were not to go near a corpse. They had to bring special offerings to the Temple. This separation and special consecration may have been present among other ancient people, but here it is under Mosaic Law. The normal time period, according to some rabbinic schools, was about a month of Nazirite vows, although others may have been longer. Some have referred to John the Baptist as a Nazirite. On top of that, Jesus of Nazareth may have been confused with Jesus the Nazirite. Is that the case here?

Advertisements

Against the Assyrians (Zeph 2:13-2:14)

“Yahweh will stretch out

His hand

Against the north.

He will destroy

Assyria.

He will make

Nineveh

A desolation,

A dry waste,

Like the desert.

Herds shall lie down in it.

Every wild animal

Shall lie down in it.

The desert owl,

The screech owl

Shall lodge

On its capitals

The owl shall hoot

At the window.

The raven shall croak

On the threshold.

Its cedar works

Will be laid bare.”

Yahweh was going to stretch out his hand to destroy the enemy of Israel to the north, the Assyrians.  He had just punished the people on the west, the Philistines, the people on the east, the Moabites and the Ammonites, and the people to the south, the Ethiopians.  Yahweh was going to make northern Nineveh a desolate wasteland desert.   Every kind of wild animal and various herds would live there.  A variety of owls would nest in their ornate towers.  Owls would hoot at their windows, while ravens would croak at their doorsteps.  All their cedar wood work would be open to the weather.

Against the seacoast people (Zeph 2:5-2:7)

“Woe to you!

Inhabitants of the seacoast!

You nation of the Cherethites!

The word of Yahweh

Is against you!

O Canaan!

Land of the Philistines!

I will destroy you

Until no inhabitant is left.

You,

O seacoast,

Shall be pastures,

Shall be meadows for shepherds,

Shall be folds for flocks.

The seacoast

Shall become the possession

Of the remnant

Of the house of Judah.

They shall pasture

In the houses of Ashkelon.

They shall lie down at evening.

Yahweh,

Their God,

Will be mindful of them.

He will restore

Their fortunes.”

Yahweh, via Zephaniah, rebuked the whole seacoast area of the Philistines, about 32 miles along the Mediterranean coast line and about 10-16 miles wide inland in southwestern Canaan.  They were called Cherethites, since they may have had some connection to the island of Crete.  Yahweh was against them, so that he was going to destroy them until there was nothing left of them.  They would become a possession of the remnants of Judah.  Their land would become like meadows for sheep.  Their houses in Ashkelon would become pastures.  Yahweh was going to restore the fortunes of the Israelites.

The Israelites will possess the neighboring lands (Ob 1:19-1:21)

“Those of the Negeb

Shall possess

Mount Esau.

Those of the Shephelah,

The land of the Philistines,

Shall possess

The land of Ephraim

With the land of Samaria.

Benjamin

Shall possess Gilead.

The exiles

Of the Israelites

Who are in Halah,

Shall possess

Phoenicia

As far as Zarephath.

The exiles of Jerusalem

Who are in Sepharad

Shall possess

The towns

Of the Negeb.

Those who have been saved

Shall go up

To Mount Zion

To rule Mount Esau.

The kingdom

Shall be Yahweh’s.”

This short chapter and book ends and a new larger Israel, as their long standing enemy neighbors will no longer exist.  Israel shall rule them.  The area of the Negeb was the arid southern land that would change from the land of Edom or Mount Esau into Israel.  Israel was going to possess the Shephelah, the western area along the Mediterranean coast where the Philistines lived.  They were also going to have the land of Samaria and the territory of Ephraim, north of Judah.  The territory of Benjamin would include land on the east side of the Jordan River, the Gilead.  The exiled Israelites in Halah in the upper Mesopotamia region and those in the Phoenician town of Zarephath, as well as the exiles in Asia Minor in Shephard would all return to live in the arid southern Negeb region.  All the saved Israelites would return to Mount Zion, as Mount Esau and all of Edom would go away and be under the Israelites.

The Israelites are not privileged (Am 9:7-9:8)

“‘Are you not

Like the Ethiopians

To me?

O people of Israel!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Did I not bring up

Israel

From the land of Egypt?

Did I not bring up

The Philistines

From Caphtor?

Did I not bring up

The Arameans

From Kir?

The eyes

Of Yahweh God

Are upon

The sinful kingdom.

I will destroy it

From the face

Of the earth.

However,

I will not utterly destroy

The house of Jacob.’

Says Yahweh.”

In this oracle of Yahweh, Amos pointed out that the Israelites were not privileged, since Yahweh had brought other countries from one place to another like Israel came from Egypt.  He had helped the Philistines come from Caphtor, also a part of Egypt.  Yahweh also helped the Arameans from Kir, an area in Mesopotamia.  The Israelites were no better than the Ethiopians.  They had become a sinful nation.  Thus, he was going to destroy them from the face of the earth.  However, Yahweh would not utterly destroy the house of Jacob.  He would leave a remnant.

The assembly at Samaria (Am 3:9-3:11)

“Proclaim to the strongholds

In Ashdod!

Proclaim to the strongholds

In the land of Egypt!

Say!

‘Assemble yourselves

On Mount Samaria!

See what great tumults

Are within her!

See what oppressions

Are within her midst!’

‘They do not know

How to do right.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They store up violence

In their strongholds.

They store up robbery

In their strongholds.’

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘An adversary

Shall surround the land.

He shall strip you

Of your defense.

Your strongholds

Shall be plundered.’”

Amos wanted the enemies of Samaria, the Philistines and the Egyptians, to gather at Mount Samaria to see what was going on there. There was a great uproar and oppression there. Yahweh said that they did not know how to do what was right. They stored up violence and robbery in their fortresses. Thus, Yahweh said that an adversary was going to surround their land, strip them of their defenses, and plunder their fortresses.

Against Israel (Am 2:6-2:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Israel,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they sell

The righteous

For silver.

They sell the needy

For a pair of sandals.

They trample

The head of the poor

Into the dust

Of the earth.

They push the afflicted

Out of the way.

A father

With his son

Goes into the same girl.

So,

My holy name

Is profaned.

They lay themselves down

Beside every altar,

On garments

Taken in pledge.

In the house

Of their god,

They drink

The wine

Bought with fines

They imposed.”

Finally, Yahweh issued a diatribe against Israel itself. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language or literary form as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Israelites were, also involved in the slave trade, as they sold the righteous ones for silver. At the same time, they sold the needy for a pair of shoes or sandals. They trampled the heads of the poor into the dust of the earth. Both father and son would have sex with the same temple female prostitute. They profaned the holy name of Yahweh, as they laid down at any altar, with garments that they had taken as interest down payments. They drank wine in the houses of their gods bought with the fines that they had imposed on the poor people. They had committed serious crimes.