Temptations in the wilderness (Mk 1:13-1:13)

“Jesus was

In the wilderness

Forty days.

He was

Tempted by Satan.

He was

With the wild beasts.

The angels

Ministered to him.”

 

καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.

 

Mark has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, chapter 4:2-11, and Luke, chapter 4:2-13.  Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days (καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας).  All 3 synoptics agree on the 40 days, since there was a symbolism to this number with the 40 years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  All agree that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil (πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ).  Satan was the adversary or the accuser after the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile.  The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong.  Sometimes the devil was referred to as the personification of evil.  Why was Jesus tempted?  God, the Father, Yahweh, often tested the righteous ones and the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.  Luke and Matthew are very similar with their detailed account of these 3 temptations.  Mark does not mention Jesus fasting or any of the 3 specific detailed temptations that are in Luke and Matthew.  Jesus was with the wild beasts (καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων), but this remark was not found in the longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke, only here.  Mark makes it seem like the temptation was physical or like the fear of wild animals.  Then the angels ministered to him (καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ).  This is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 4:11, but there were no angels ministering to Jesus in Luke, chapter 4:13.  Here, a number of angels came, as in 1 Kings, chapter 19:4-8, where an angel came to help Elijah when he was in the desert, as the shadow of Elijah appeared in many of these gospel stories.  These angels came to wait on and care for Jesus.

Prayer to Yahweh (Hab 1:12-1:13)

“Are you not from of old?

O Yahweh!

My God!

My Holy One!

You shall not die!

O Yahweh!

You have marked them

For judgment.

You!

O Rock!

Have you established them

For punishment?

Your eyes are too pure

To behold evil!

You cannot look

On wrongdoing!

Why do you look

On the treacherous ones?

Why are you silent

When the wicked swallow

Those more righteous

Than they?”

Habakkuk has a prayer to Yahweh that seems to question some of his behavior.  Yahweh, the holy one, his God, who would not die, has marked all these violent men for judgment.  Yahweh, his rock, has set them up for punishment.  Yahweh’s eyes were too pure to see evil, so that he could not look at any wrongdoing.  Then Habakkuk wanted to know why Yahweh was so silent about these treacherous ones, when these wicked ones seem to be swallowing up the righteous ones?  Habakkuk wanted Yahweh to act against these wicked people now, not tolerate them for a later punishment.

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.

The righteous ones (Ezek 33:12-33:13)

“You!

Son of man!

Say to your people!

‘The righteousness

Of the righteous

Shall not save them

When they transgress.

As for the wickedness

Of the wicked,

It shall not make them

Stumble

When they turn

From their wickedness.

The righteous

Shall not be able

To live

By their righteousness

When they sin.

Although I say

To the righteous

That they shall surely live.

Yet if they trust

In their righteousness,

Then commit iniquity,

None of their righteous deeds

Shall be remembered.

But in the iniquity

That they have committed,

They shall die.”

Yahweh told Ezekiel, the son of man, to warn the righteous ones of his people. They cannot save themselves when they transgress the laws of Yahweh. However, if the wicked ones turn from their wickedness, they would not stumble. The righteous ones should not be so self-righteous. If they sin, they will not be able to live by their own righteousness. These righteous ones shall surely live, if they do not commit iniquity. Then they can trust in their righteousness. On the other hand, if they commit iniquity, none of their righteous deeds would be remembered. In fact, the committed iniquity would bring them death, so that they would die.

The end of the false prophetesses (Ezek 13:22-13:23)

“Because you have disheartened

The righteous falsely,

Although I have not

Disheartened them.

You have encouraged

The wicked

Not to turn from

Their wicked ways.

You have encouraged

The wicked

Not to save their lives.

Therefore you shall no longer

See false visions.

You shall no longer

Practice divination.

I will save my people

From your hand.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.”

Ezekiel concludes this little section on the false prophetesses with Yahweh condemning them. Strangely enough, it is not a death sentence. He merely chastised them for disheartening the righteous ones falsely. These prophetesses had not encouraged the wicked to turn away from their wicked ways. They made no attempt to save the lives of the wicked ones. Their punishment was rather simple. They would no longer have any visions or be allowed to practice divination. By the way, who would stop them? Yahweh would save his people from them. Once again, they would know that he was Yahweh, the God of Israel.

The righteous ones (Ezek 3:20-3:21)

“‘Again,

If the righteous ones

Turn

From their righteousness,

If they commit iniquity,

I will lay

A stumbling block

Before them.

They shall die.

Because you have not

Warned them,

They shall die

For their sin.

Their righteous deeds

That they have done

Shall not be remembered.

But I will require

Their blood

At your hand.

If however,

You warn

The righteous ones

Not to sin,

Then they do not sin,

They shall surely live.

Because they took

The warning,

You will have saved

Your life.’”

What was true about the wicked was also true about the righteous. If these righteous ones would turn away from their righteousness, it they committed iniquity, Yahweh was going to lay a stumbling block before them. They would die. If Ezekiel had not warned them, they would die for their sins anyway. Any righteous deeds that they had done would be forgotten. However, the blood of these fallen away righteous one would be on the hands of Ezekiel. On the other hand, if Ezekiel had warned the righteous ones not to sin, and then they did not sin, they would live. They had taken the warning words from Ezekiel seriously. On top of that, Ezekiel’s life would be saved.