The mother of the sons of Zebedee (Mt 20:20-20:20)

“Then the mother

Of the sons of Zebedee

Came up to Jesus,

With her sons.

She knelt before him.

She asked a favor

Of him.”

 

Τότε προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ ἡ μήτηρ τῶν υἱῶν Ζεβεδαίου μετὰ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῆς προσκυνοῦσα καὶ αἰτοῦσά τι ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 10:35, but there the brothers, rather than their mother approached Jesus.  Was she with them on this trip to Jerusalem, or did this take place earlier?  The mother of the sons of Zebedee (ἡ μήτηρ τῶν υἱῶν Ζεβεδαίου), or the wife of Zebedee, came to Jesus (Τότε προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ) with her sons (μετὰ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῆς), James and John, who were part of the 12 leaders of Jesus.  She knelt before Jesus (προσκυνοῦσα) and made a request to him for a favor (καὶ αἰτοῦσά τι ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ).

Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist (Mt 14:2-14:3)

“Herod said

To his servants.

‘This is John the Baptist.

He has been raised

From the dead.

This is why these powers

Are at work in him.’

Herod had seized John.

He had bound him.

He had put him in prison,

On account of Herodias,

His brother Philip’s wife.”

 

καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ.

Ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης κρατήσας τὸν Ἰωάνην ἔδησεν καὶ ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ·

 

This mention of Herod and John the Baptist can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 6:14 and 6:17, and Luke, chapter 9:7 and 3:19-20, and here.  As if this story was not complicated enough, Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee, had already seized John the Baptist.  John had been complaining that Herod Antipas had married the wife of his half-brother Herod Boethus or Philip, after he had divorced his first wife, who went back to her father and started a war with Herod Antipas.  His new wife was called Herodias.  Thus, Herod Antipas said to his children or servants (καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ) that he thought that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead (Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν).  How ironic since Jesus was to rise from the dead.  Herod thought the miraculous powers of John the Baptist were at work in Jesus (καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ).  Herod knew that he had seized, bound, and, put John in jail (Ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης κρατήσας τὸν Ἰωάνην ἔδησεν καὶ ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο).  In fact, he had him killed because of his new wife Herodias, who had been the wife of his brother Philip or Herod Boethus (διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ).

The punishment of Gibeah (Hos 10:9-10:10)

“Since the days of Gibeah,

You have sinned!

O Israel!

There they have continued.

Shall not war overtake them

In Gibeah?

I will come

Against the wayward people

To punish them.

Nations shall be gathered

Against them,

When they are punished

For their double iniquity.”

Gibeah was just north of Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin. The first battle of Gibeah was at the time of the Judges, chapters 19-21. The men of Gibeah raped the wife of an Ephraim Levite. However, he got the other tribes of Israel to attack the people of Benjamin. Finally, the Israelites were successful in defeating the people of Gibeah, in the territory of Benjamin. Clearly, the men of Gibeah had sinned. So, had Israel. Thus, the Israelites were successful. Now it looks like there would be another fight against Gibeah that was once destroyed. They would be punished again for their double iniquity, since they had raped 2 women. They also would not turn over the men who did this.

King Cyrus (Dan 14:1-14:1)

“When King Astyages

Was laid to rest

With his ancestors,

Cyrus the Persian

Succeeded to his kingdom.”

This last chapter of the Book of Daniel is often referred to as the story of Bel, the god, and the dragon. Daniel will show how each one was useless. Once again, this chapter is only in the Greek Septuagint, so that it is often called apocryphal. This story takes place at the later part of the life of Daniel, since Cyrus the Persian (598-530 BCE) was the King. His rule in Persia began in 559 BCE and lasted about 30 years. Here, he is still only the king of Persia that he received from his father, King Astyages (585-550 BCE). The sister of King Astyages was the wife of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Thus, you can see the connection, as Cyprus would have been the nephew of the Babylonian king. Eventually, Cyrus took over Babylon in 539 BCE.

Susanna (Dan 13:2-13:3)

“Joakim married

The daughter of Hilkiah,

Named Susanna,

A very beautiful woman,

Who feared the Lord.

Her parents were righteous.

They had trained

Their daughter

According to the law of Moses.”

This Joakim married a woman named Susanna. Thus, this story is more about the wife of Joakim, Susanna, than about him. Susanna, the lily, was very beautiful. But more important, she was one who feared the Lord. She was also the daughter of Hilkiah, whose name meant that the Lord was my portion. Both of Susanna’s parents were righteous people. They had trained her and brought her up according to the Law of Moses. In other words, she was a faithful Israelite from strong Israelite parents.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

Birth of a son to Isaiah (Isa 8:1-8:4)

“Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Take a large tablet.

Write on it

In common characters,

‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’

‘The spoil speeds.

The prey hastens.’

Have it attested for me

By reliable witnesses,

The priest Uriah,

And Zechariah

Son of Jeberechiah.’

I went to the prophetess.

She conceived.

She bore a son.

Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Name him

Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

Before the child knows how to cry

‘My father’ or

‘My mother,’

The wealth of Damascus

With the spoil of Samaria

Will be carried away

By the king of Assyria.’”

Once again, we have a conversation between Yahweh and Isaiah directly. Yahweh told him to write down on a large wooden tablet, the letters Maher-shalal-hash-bar, which means spoil spreads and prey hastens. Then Isaiah had to go to the priest Uriah, mentioned in 2 Kings, chapter 16, as well as Zechariah, probably the father of the wife of Ahaz, to have it attested. Next he went to the prophetess, probably his wife, who then conceived and bore a son that was to be named after the word on the large tablet. Before this boy would be able to utter the words father or mother, the wealth of Damascus in Syria and the spoils of Samaria in Ephraim would be carried away by the king of Assyria. This alliance of King Ahaz of Judah with the King of Assyria can also be found in 2 Kings, chapter 16. Thus the name of the child was really talking about what was about to happen to Syria and Ephraim.