The failure of the sons of Abraham (Mt 8:11-8:12)

“I tell you!

‘Many will come

From the east,

From the west.

They will recline at table

With Abraham,

With Isaac,

With Jacob,

In the kingdom of heaven.

However,

The heirs of the kingdom

Will be thrown

Into the outer darkness.

There will be weeping

As well as gnashing of teeth.’”

 

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι πολλοὶ ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ δυσμῶν ἥξουσιν καὶ ἀνακλιθήσονται μετὰ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακὼβ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν·

οἱ δὲ υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλείας ἐκβληθήσονται εἰς τὸ σκότος τὸ ἐξώτερον· ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων.

 

This saying about the failure of the sons of Abraham is not in the similar account in Luke, chapter 7, since this is unique to Matthew, and thus, showed his anti-Jewish bias.  This little saying began as a solemn pronouncement of Jesus (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν).  Many people would come from the east and the west (ὅτι πολλοὶ ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ δυσμῶν ἥξουσιν) to recline at table (καὶ ἀνακλιθήσονται) during the Messianic feast with the 3 great Hebrew Jewish leaders, Abraham (μετὰ Ἀβραὰμ), Isaac (καὶ Ἰσαὰκ), and Jacob (καὶ Ἰακὼβ) in the kingdom of the heavens (ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν).  Only Matthew used this word “ἀνακλιθήσονται,” to recline at table.  However, the sons or the heirs of the kingdom (οἱ δὲ υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλείας) will be thrown out into the outer darkness (ἐκβληθήσονται εἰς τὸ σκότος τὸ ἐξώτερον), where there would be weeping, crying, or lamenting (ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς) with the gnashing of teeth (καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων).  In this reference to the end times damnation, these were the traditional ways or signs to show anger and frustration.

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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.

The vision of the goat (Dan 8:5-8:5)

“As I was watching,

A male goat

Appeared

From the west.

It came across

The face

Of the whole earth,

Without touching

The ground.

The goat

Had a conspicuous horn

Between its eyes.”

While Daniel was watching the ram, a goat from the west appeared, maybe a reference to Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). This goat was a like a flying animal, but there was no mention of any wings. This goat simply moved without touching the ground. However, it did have a horn between its eyes, like a unicorn.

The return of the exiles (Bar 4:36-4:37)

“Look toward the east!

O Jerusalem!

See the joy

That is coming

To you

From God!

Look!

Your children

Are coming!

Those you sent away

Are coming.

They are gathered

From the east,

From the west,

At the word

Of the Holy One,

Rejoicing

In the glory

Of God.”

Jerusalem was to look to the east to see the joy of those coming back to Jerusalem. The children, who were sent away, are now returning to this holy city. They are being gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, not Yahweh. They are rejoicing in the glory of God.

Judgment (Isa 59:18-59:20)

“According to their deeds,

So will he repay.

Wrath will come to his adversaries.

Requital will come to his enemies.

To the coastlands,

He will render requital.

Thus those in the west

Shall fear the name of Yahweh.

Those in the east,

His glory will come.

He will come

Like a rushing pent up stream.

The wind of Yahweh will drive it.

He will come to Zion as a Redeemer

To those in Jacob,

Who turn from transgression.

Says Yahweh.”

The judgment of Yahweh is coming. Yahweh will repay people according to their deeds. He will bring wrath to his enemies and adversaries, particularly the coastlands of the Mediterranean area. The people in the west will fear the Lord. Those in the east will see his glory. Yahweh will come like a windy pent up storm. Yahweh will come to Mount Zion as the redeemer for those Israelites who turn away from their transgressions.

The gathering from all over (Isa 49:12-49:12)

“Look!

These shall come from far away.

Look!

These shall come from the north.

These shall come from the west.

These shall come from the land of Syene.”

The new Israelites would come from all over. Second Isaiah has them come from the north and the west. There is also a special mention of the city of Syene, which is on the border of Egypt and Ethiopia, what is now called Assouan. The book of Ezekiel, the prophet, also mentions this town in chapters 29-30, but there is no other mention of it in the biblical literature.