The good soil bears fruit (Lk 8:15-8:15)

“As for those seeds

On the good soil,

These are the ones

Who,

When they hear

The word,

They hold it fast

In an honest

And good heart.

They bear fruit

With a patient endurance.”

 

τὸ δὲ ἐν τῇ καλῇ γῇ, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἵτινες ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον κατέχουσιν καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the seeds on the good soil (τὸ δὲ ἐν τῇ καλῇ γῇ) are the ones (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἵτινες) who heard the word (ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον) and held it or kept it fast (κατέχουσιν) with an honest and good heart (ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ).  They would bear fruit with a patient endurance (καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ).  This explanation of the sower parable about the good seeds can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:20, Matthew, chapter 13:23, and here, with Matthew closer to Mark.  Mark and Matthew indicated that Jesus said that the seeds sown on good soil were the people who heard the word and accepted it.  They then bore good fruit.  They yielded either 30-fold, 60-fold, or a 100-fold.  Matthew, had the reverse order of Mark, 100, 60, and 30, while Luke, has no number on the fruitful harvest.  Only about 25% of the seeds sown were effective.  Thus, only about 25% of the people hearing the word of the kingdom from Jesus would follow it.  The seeds or the word that fell on the path, on the rocky ground, or the thorns were ineffective.  However, even among the effective seeds that were on good soil, the word would have different results.  Some would yield 30 times, some 60, and some 100.  There was no magic formula.  The circumstances among the good hearers would also bring about a variety of responses and effectiveness.  How effective are the seeds of the word of God in your life?

Tradition and hypocrisy (Mt 15:6-15:7)

“Thus,

They do not honor

Their father

Or their mother

For the sake

Of their tradition.

You have made void

The word of God.

You hypocrites!

Isaiah prophesied of you,

When he said.”

 

οὐ μὴ τιμήσει τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἠκυρώσατε τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν.

ὑποκριταί, καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν περὶ ὑμῶν Ἡσαΐας λέγων

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:6.  Jesus pointed out that for the sake of their traditions (διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν), they did not honor their father or their mother (οὐ μὴ τιμήσει τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ).  They have made void or cancelled out the word of God (καὶ ἠκυρώσατε τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  These Pharisees were the kind of hypocrites that Isaiah, chapter 29:3, had prophesied about (ὑποκριταί, καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν περὶ ὑμῶν Ἡσαΐας λέγων).  This was a favorite term of Matthew for these Pharisees, hypocrites, people who play a part in a drama, but who are not sincere.

The Word of God

In what sense is the Bible “the word of God”?  Certainly, the Bible was written by humans.  However, there are a number of times when the human authors were citing the words of God himself.  Sometimes these are called oracles or sayings of God.  This series of books portray humans interacting with God.  God wants them to do something and then the humans react.  The Bible contains words about God and words of God himself spoken to humans.  Thus, we can say that the Bible is the inspired words of God in human terms.

Yahweh speaks to Joel (Joel 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Joel,

The son of Pethuel.”

Like most prophets, the word of God came to Joel. The problem of dating when Joel was active as a prophet is difficult. Joel does not have a unique name, since it was a quite common name. He probably lived in Judah during the post-exilic Persian rule. He may have been a Temple prophet in the Second Temple times. Thus, putting him between 400-350 BCE does not seem out of place. His father was Pethuel, but this is the only time that his name appears in the biblical literature.

Ezekiel will be a new leader for Yahweh (Ezek 33:30-33:30)

“As for you!

Son of man!

Your people

Who talk together

About you

By the walls,

Or at the doors

Of the houses,

Say to one another,

Each to a neighbor.

‘Come!

Hear

What the word is

That comes

From Yahweh.’”

Ezekiel, the son of man, will have a new position as the mouthpiece of Yahweh. The people who talked by the walls in the public areas and those who talked at the doors to their houses in a semi-private area, would both say to each other that they need to hear the word of God. They would come to Ezekiel to hear Yahweh’s word for them.

Buy the field in Anathoth (Jer 32:6-32:8)

“Jeremiah said.

‘The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

Hanamel,

Son of your uncle Shallum,

Is going to come to you.

He will say.

‘Buy my field

That is at Anathoth!

The right of redemption

By purchase is yours.’

Then my cousin Hanamel

Came to me

In the court of the guard,

In accordance

With the word of Yahweh.

He said to me.

‘Buy my field

That is at Anathoth

In the land of Benjamin!

The right of possession

Is yours.

The right of redemption

Is yours.

Buy it for yourself.’

Then I knew

That this was

The word of Yahweh.”

Clearly Jeremiah, while still in the royal prison, has an oracle of Yahweh come to him. His cousin Hanamel, the son of his uncle Shallum, was going to sell him some land in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin. Jeremiah was from Anathoth, but it would have been now controlled by the invading Chaldeans and Babylonians. Shallum was the same name as King Jehoahaz who died in 609 BCE, 20 years earlier, but is probably not the same person. This land was probably Levite land that could not be sold to non- Levites. Since this was a family transaction, the right of redemption and purchase was allowed. Then Jeremiah’s cousin Hanamel showed up at the royal prison asking Jeremiah to buy his field at Anathoth. Then Jeremiah was sure that this was the word of God.

Commentary on the burden of Yahweh (Jer 23:34-23:38)

“As for the prophet,

The priest,

Or one of the people

Who say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’

I will punish them.

I will punish their households.

Thus shall you say,

To one another,

Among yourselves.

‘What has Yahweh answered?

‘What has Yahweh spoken?’

But ‘the burden of Yahweh’

You shall mention no more.

The burden is

Everyone’s own word.

Thus you pervert

The words of the living God.

Yahweh of hosts!

Our God!

Thus you shall ask the prophet.

‘What has Yahweh answered you?’

‘What has Yahweh spoken?’

But if you say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Because you have said

These words,

‘The burden of Yahweh,

When I sent to you,

Saying,

‘You shall not say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’”

This commentary on the “burden of Yahweh” seems to be a later addition trying to explain why you should never say “The burden of Yahweh.” A burden is something that you bare. Perhaps it is the heavy burden that the prophet Jeremiah’s words brought to the people. Yahweh was going to punish people and their households who said that the word of Yahweh was a burden. Rather, it seems like it should be a blessing. The prophet, the priest, or the people all should never mention the “burden of Yahweh.” They should say that Yahweh has spoken or answered them. He has not given them a burden, since this would be a perversion of the word of God. Simply put, stop using the term burden when speaking about God and his words.