The eleven disciples go to the mountain in Galilee (Mt 28:16-28:16)

“Now the eleven disciples

Went to Galilee.

They went

To the mountain

That Jesus

Had directed them

To go.”

 

Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς,

 

This is unique to Matthew, since he was the only one that has the post-resurrection Jesus appear on a mountain in Galilee talking to his 11-member leadership team of apostolic disciples.  He said that these 11 disciples traveled or went to Galilee (Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν), since Judas had been eliminated.  They went to an unspecified or unnamed hill or mountain that Jesus had directed or assigned them to go to (εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  Once again, like Moses, the commanding statements from God will be on a mountain, closer to heaven or the sky rather than on plain ground.

The two women and the wicked basket (Zech 5:9-5:11)

“Then I looked up.

I saw two women

Coming forward.

The wind

Was in their wings.

They had wings

Like the wings

Of a stork.

They lifted up the basket

Between the earth

And the heavens.

Then I said to the angel

Who talked with me.

‘Where are they taking

The basket?’

He said to me.

‘To the land of Shinar,

To build a house for it.

When this is prepared,

They will set the basket

Down there on its base.’”

Next two-winged women came forward, with wings like a stork.  They took the basket into the sky with the wicked woman in it.  Zechariah wanted to know where they were taking the basket.  The angel who had been talking with Zechariah said that they were taking the basket to the land of Shinar, another name for Babylon.  There they were going to build a house or a temple and put this basket of wickedness in the middle of the temple on a base set up there.  In other words, this wicked basket was going to become a Babylonian idol.

The future resurrection (Dan 12:2-12:3)

“Many of those

Who sleep

In the dust

Of the earth

Shall awake.

Some shall awake

To everlasting life.

Some shall awake

To shame,

To everlasting contempt.

Those who are wise

Shall shine

Like the brightness

Of the sky.

Those who lead many

To righteousness,

Shall shine

Like the stars

Forever and ever.”

Here is the first explicit mention of an afterlife resurrection in the Biblical writings.  Once again, Gabriel was explaining to Daniel what the end times would be like.  Notice that not all people would raise from the dead, only many.  Some will awake to an everlasting life, while others will awaken to shame and everlasting contempt.  The wise ones and the righteous ones would shine like the brightness of the sky and the stars, forever and ever.  Perhaps, this is an indication of a glorified shinny body.

The splendor of Yahweh (Ezek 1:28-1:28)

“Like the bow

In a cloud

On a rainy day,

Such was the appearance

Of all the splendor

All around.

There was the appearance

Of the likeness

Of the glory

Of Yahweh.

When I saw it,

I fell upon my face.

I heard the voice

Of someone speaking.”

Ezekiel seemed to think that this vision was like a rainbow in the sky on a rainy day. With such great splendor all around him, there appeared to be the glory of Yahweh. This glory of Yahweh referred to his presence, but outside the Temple of Jerusalem. When Ezekiel saw all this, he fell upon his face to the ground. Then, finally, after all this description of the vision, he heard the voice of someone speaking. Now this colorful vision of Ezekiel will have the traditional oral communication, as opposed to this visual delight.

The powerless idols (Bar 6:53-5:56)

“These false idols cannot

Set up a king

Over a country.

They cannot

Give rain

To people.

They cannot

Judge

Their own cause.

They cannot

Deliver anyone

Who is wronged.

They have no power.

They are like crows

Between heaven and earth.

When fire breaks out

In a temple

Of wooden gods,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver,

Their priests will flee.

They will escape.

But the gods

Will be burned up

Like timbers.

Besides,

They can offer

No resistance

To a king

Or any enemies.

Why then must

Anyone admit

Or think

That they are gods?”

This author maintains that these false idols cannot set up a king over a country. They cannot give rain to anybody. They cannot judge their own cause. They cannot deliver anyone that has been wronged, since they have no power. They are like crows in the sky. If a fire breaks out in a temple of wooden gods with gold and silver, their priests will flee and escape. However, these idol gods will be burned up like timbers. These weak false idols cannot offer any resistance to a king or any enemies. How then can you think or admit that they are gods?

Wisdom and creation (Bar 3:32-3:34)

But the one who knows

All things

Knows her.

He found her

By his understanding.

The one who prepared

The earth

For all time

Filled it

With four-footed creatures.

The one who sends forth

The light,

Then it goes.

He called it.

It obeyed him

Trembling.

The stars shone

In their watches.

They were glad.

He called them.

They said.

‘Here we are!’

They shone

With gladness

For him

Who made them.”

Baruch connected wisdom with creation, a great theme of late wisdom literature. Once again, this puts into doubt the Baruch authorship. God, who knows everything, knew about wisdom. Somehow wisdom was separate from God. God was able to find this wisdom, because of his understanding. God prepared the earth for all time in this static view of the earth. He filled it with four-footed creatures, while other creatures were not mentioned. God sent the light and it happened. He merely had to call it, and it happened. This is much like the first creation story in Genesis, chapter 1. The stars in the sky gladly followed his commands. They were like the prophets with this personification of stars saying that they were ready to shine with gladness in obedience to the creative God who made them.

The wonders of weather (Sir 43:13-43:17)

“By the Lord’s command,

He sends the driving snow.

He speeds the lightning

Of his judgment.

Therefore the storehouses

Are opened.

The clouds fly out

Like birds.

In his majesty,

He gives the clouds

Their strength.

The hailstones

Are broken in pieces.

The voice of his thunder

Rebukes the earth.

When he appears,

The mountains shake.

At his will,

The south wind blows.”

Sirach, like many of the ancient people, including the Israelites, believed that God completely controlled the weather. In fact, we still have some farming communities that pray to God for rain. Today’s TV weather forecast would be that God is sending us rain and a cool temperature, with nothing about a cold front. God’s command sent snow and lightning. The storehouses in the clouds would be opened up by the Lord to let rain, snow, and hailstones fall to earth like birds tumbling out of the sky. Thus precipitation from the sky was like the thunderous voice of God that shock up the mountains. The Lord was also responsible for the south mild winds also.

The rainbow (Sir 43:11-43:12)

“Look at the rainbow!

Praise him

Who made it!

It is exceedingly beautiful

In its brightness.

It encircles the sky

With its glorious arc.

The hands of the Most High

Have stretched it out.”

Sirach now points out the beauty of the rainbow, after a rainfall. He wants us to look at it. He wants us think about who made it, since it is exceeding beautiful and bright. The half circle arc seems to go into the sky. If you were in Ireland you might go look for some gold at the end of the rainbow. There have been popular songs about rainbows. Sirach indicates that the hands of the Most High God have stretched it out. In fact, it was considered a sign of the covenant between Yahweh and Noah, after the flood in Genesis, chapter 9, but that is not mentioned here. Neither is there any indication of the various colors that reflect the sun’s rays through the rain clouds that has become a symbol of diversity.

The sun (Sir 43:1-43: 5)

“The pride of the higher realms

Is the clear vault of the sky.

As glorious to behold

As the sight of the heavens.

The sun,

When it appears,

Proclaims as it rises.

What a marvelous instrument!

It is the work of the Most High.

At noon,

It parches the land.

Who can withstand its burning heat?

A man tending a furnace

Works in burning heat.

But the sun scorches the mountains

Three times as hot.

It breathes out fiery vapors.

Its bright rays

Blind the eyes.

Great is the Lord

Who made it!

At his orders

It hurries on its course.”

Sirach points out the beauty and utility of the sun in the sky. The rising sun proclaims what a marvelous instrument it is of the Most High God. We have all seen the beauty of the rising morning sun as it proclaims the glory of God. At noon, the sun parches the land, scorching the mountains with its burning heat. Sirach says that the sun is 3 times as hot as a blast furnace. That may be true for somewhere along the line as sun rays head to earth, but here on earth, it is not quite as hot as a burning fire. However, it is true that its bright rays can blind you if you look right into the sun. Certainly the Lord, who made the sun, is to be glorified, as we see the sun move around the earth until sunset. Oh, oh, it is the earth moving around the sun, and not the other way around. However, it still is a lovely poetic thought of sunrise and sunset.

Righteousness and peace (Ps 85:10-85:13)

“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet.

Righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

Faithfulness will spring up from the ground.

Righteousness will look down from the sky.

Yahweh will give what is good.

Our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness will go before him.

Righteousness will make a path for his steps.”

This psalm ends with an emphasis on peace and righteousness. Love and faithfulness come together as well as peace and righteousness. Faithfulness comes from the ground while righteousness comes from the sky. Yahweh will give what is good so that the yield of the land will increase. Righteousness will go before Yahweh preparing a path for his steps.