Lilies of the field (Mt 6:28-6:28)

“Why do you worry

About clothing?

Consider the lilies

Of the field!

How do they grow?

They do not toil.

They do not spin.”

 

καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε; καταμάθετε τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ πῶς αὐξάνουσιν· οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν·

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:27, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source, about the lilies.  Jesus wanted to know why they were worried about their clothes (καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε).  He wanted them to look and consider the lilies of the field (καταμάθετε τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ).  This is the only time that the word “καταμάθετε” appears in the New Testament writings.  It means to understand, take in a fact, consider carefully.  These lilies grew without any weary work in the field or any spinning (πῶς αὐξάνουσιν· οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν).  The verb to spin, “νήθουσιν” is unique to Matthew among all the New Testament writings.  Thus, the lilies of the field looked great without any work or cares.

The breaking of the peace (Mic 2:8-2:10)“But you rise Against my people As an enemy. You strip the robe From the peaceful, From those who pass by Trustingly, With no thought of war. You drive out The women Of my people From their pleasant houses. You take away From their young children My glory forever. Arise! Go! This is no place To rest. Because uncleanness Destroys With a grievous destruction.” Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace. The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy. They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war. They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes. They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children. Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

“But you rise

Against my people

As an enemy.

You strip the robe

From the peaceful,

From those who pass by

Trustingly,

With no thought of war.

You drive out

The women

Of my people

From their pleasant houses.

You take away

From their young children

My glory forever.

Arise!

Go!

This is no place

To rest.

Because uncleanness

Destroys

With a grievous destruction.”

Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace.  The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy.  They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war.  They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes.  They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children.  Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

Praise for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 3:27-3:28)

“The satraps,

The prefects,

The governors,

The king’s counselors,

Gathered together.

They saw

That the fire

Had not had any power

Over the bodies

Of these men.

The hair

Of their heads

Was not singed.

Their tunics were

Not harmed.

Not even the smell of fire

Came from them.

King Nebuchadnezzar said.

‘Blessed be the God

Of Shadrach,

Of Meshach,

Of Abednego,

Who has sent

His angel!

He has delivered

His servants,

Who trusted in him.

They disobeyed

The king’s command.

They yielded up

Their bodies

Rather than serve,

Rather than worship,

Any god

Except their own God.’”

All the important people of the Babylonian kingdom were gathered together, including the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors. They all marveled that the 3 men had survived the fire unscathed. Their hair was not even singed and their clothes were not harmed. They did not even smell like smoke from the fire. King Nebuchadnezzar then praised them and their God. He blessed God, just as they had done in the fiery furnace. The king noted that an angel of God had saved the 3 of them. They had trusted in their God by disobeying the king’s command. Then they suffering the consequences. They gave up their bodies, rather than serve and worship another god. They were truly blessed by their God.

The holy garments (Ezek 42:14-42:14)

“When the priests enter

The holy place,

They shall not go out of it

Into the outer court

Without laying there

The garments

In which they minister.

These are holy garments.

They shall put on

Other garments

Before they go near

To the area

Open to the people.”

The bronze man further explained to Ezekiel that these chambers also held the holy garments that the priests wore when they entered the holy of holies. These priests were not to go out into the outer court, without changing their clothes. The garments or vestments themselves were holy, so that they had to be left in these holy chambers. The priests had to put on other clothes before they could go near the area where all the other people were.

Like a funeral (Bar 6:31-6:32)

“In these temples

Of false gods,

The priests sit

With their clothes

Torn.

Their heads

Are shaved.

Their beards

Are shaved.

Their heads

Are uncovered.

They howl.

They shout

Before their gods

As some do

At a funeral banquet.”

The priests of these false idol gods sit in the temples with their clothes torn, as if in mourning. They have their heads and beards shaven with nothing to cover their heads. The Israelite and Judean priests always covered their heads, and they normally did not shave their beards. These priests of the false gods, on the other hand, howled and shouted before the images of their gods. They acted like they were at a funeral meal for their dying gods.

Judas Maccabeus sees the desolation in Jerusalem (1 Macc 4:36-4:40)

“Then Judas and his brothers said.

‘Behold, our enemies are crushed.

Let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary

Let us go up to dedicate the sanctuary.’

All the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. There they saw the sanctuary desolate. The altar was profaned. The gates were burned. In the courts they saw bushes springing up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. Then they tore their clothes. They mourned with great lamentation. They sprinkled themselves with ashes. They fell face down on the ground. When the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to heaven.”

Judas Maccabeus with his brothers decided that since they had defeated their enemies, they would cleanse the Jerusalem sanctuary. Thus the whole army when to Mount Zion, Jerusalem. There they saw the sorry state of affairs. The altar was profaned. The gates were burned. The courtyards were full of thick bushes. The priestly chambers were ruined. Therefore, they did what any good man would do. They tore their clothes as a sign of mourning and upset. To get the mood right, they sprinkled ashes on themselves and fell to the ground. When the trumpets sounded they prayed to God in heaven.

The penitential assembly at Mizpah (1 Macc 3:46-49)

“Then they gathered together. They went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. They fasted that day. They put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads. They tore their clothes. They opened the book of the law to inquire into those matters about which the gentiles were consulting the images of their gods. They also brought the vestments of the priesthood, the first fruits, and the tithes. They stirred up the Nazirites who had completed their days.”

The troops of Judas Maccabeus assembled at Mizpah, where Samuel had gathered the Israelites for repentance in 1 Samuel, chapter 7. Mizpah was close to Jerusalem. Like at the time of Samuel, they fasted, put on sackcloth, and tore their clothes in repentance. The Jewish people consulted their book of the law rather than the images of the divine oracles of the Greek gentiles. They had a cultic experience by bringing the vestments of the priests, even though there was no mention of any Levite priests here. They also brought first fruits and tithes. It is difficult to see what they did with these things since the Temple at Jerusalem had been destroyed. They also stirred up the Nazirites who had finished their obligations. Obviously this revolutionary group was inspired by the Nazirite movement as outlined in Numbers, chapter 6.