The grandfather of Jesus (Lk 3:23-3:23)

“Jesus was the son,

As was thought,

Of Joseph,

The son of Heli.”

 

ὢν υἱός, ὡς ἐνομίζετο, Ἰωσὴφ, τοῦ Ἡλεὶ

 

Luke said that Jesus was the son (ὢν υἱός), as was thought or supposed (ὡς ἐνομίζετο), of Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ,), the son of Heli (τοῦ Ἡλεὶ).  Right off the bat, there is a problem with the differences between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke.  The end of the genealogy of Matthew, chapter 1:16, is Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ) with his father Jacob (Ἰακὼβ).  Perhaps the names of Jacob and Joseph were an attempt to connect Jesus with the great Joseph, the son of Jacob, who brought the sons of Jacob to Egypt.  However, compared to the text here in Luke, there is a difference with the father of Joseph, the grandfather of Jesus.  Luke called him “the son of Heli,” not “the son of Jacob.”  Luke said that Joseph was the so-called father of Jesus.  Thus, it might seem simple enough to compare this genealogy of Jesus with the one in Matthew, chapter 1:1-1:17.  Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke listed the family tree of Jesus.  These genealogies were theological statements with different parent genealogies and different audiences.  Matthew, went from Abraham to Jesus, so that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish messianic expectations.  The theme of David was important, since Joseph was called the son of David.  Matthew explained that there were 3 sections of 14 generations.  One section went from the call of Abraham to the accession of David as king.  The second grouping went from David to the Babylonian exile.  The final section went from the Exile to the coming of the Messiah.  The Gospel of Luke genealogy, on the hand, goes from Jesus to Adam to God.  Luke’s view was more universal.  Jesus could trace his roots back to God.  Luke, who had the best Greek, was apparently writing for the gentiles of the Pauline Churches.  The Son of God was a more meaningful term.  Luke spoke of the Son of Adam, the second Adam, a theme that Paul also used.  Jesus had both divine and human origins.  This was not difficult for Greeks, since their gods were always having relations with humans in their mythical stories.  Thus, there are two different genealogies for Joseph, with only one common person, David.  This left Jesus with 2 paternal grandfathers, Jacob and Heli.  Matthew listed 52 people, but Luke has 77 ancestors because he went further back in time.  It is what it is.

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Different genealogies

Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke listed the family tree of Jesus. However, only David and Joseph were on both lists. These genealogies were theological statements with different parent genealogies and different audiences. Matthew, as just shown, went from Abraham to Jesus, so that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish messianic expectations. The theme of David was important, since Joseph was called the son of David. Matthew explained that there were 3 sections of 14 generations. One section went from the call of Abraham to the accession of David as king. The second grouping went from David to the Babylonian exile. The final section went from the Exile to the coming of the Messiah. Matthew also has the Magi story, where Herod’s appearance has echoes of the Old Testament with various references to Old Testament prophecies. The Gospel of Luke genealogy, on the hand, went from Jesus to Adam to God. Luke’s view was more universal. Jesus could trace his roots back to God. Luke, who had the best Greek, was writing for the gentiles of the Pauline Churches. The Son of God was a more meaningful term. Luke spoke of the Son of Adam, the second Adam, a theme that Paul also used. Jesus had both divine and human origins. This was not difficult for Greeks, since their gods were always having relations with humans in their mythical stories. Thus, there are two different genealogies for Joseph, with only one common person, David.

The obliteration of the name of the king of Nineveh (Nah 1:14-1:14)

To the king of Nineveh

“Yahweh has commanded

Concerning you.

‘Your name shall not be

Perpetuated no longer.

From the house

Of your gods

I will cut off

The craved image

With the cast image.

I will make your grave.

You are worthless.’”

Nahum announced that Yahweh had commanded that the name of the king of Assyria, probably King Sennacherib of Assyria (705-681), would not be perpetuated any longer.  The various carved images and cast mold idols would be cut off from the house of their gods.  Yahweh was going to make a grave for the king and all his idols, because they were all worthless.

The attack of the king of the south (Dan 11:7-11:9)

“In those times,

A branch from her roots

Shall rise up

In his place.

He shall come

Against the army.

He shall enter the fortress

Of the king of the north.

He shall take action

Against them.

He shall prevail.

He shall carry off

To Egypt

Even their gods,

With their idols,

With their precious vessels

Of silver,

Of gold,

As spoils of war.

For some years,

He shall refrain

From attacking

The king of the north.

Then the latter

Shall invade

The realm

Of the king of the south.

But he shall return

To his own land.”

The southern King Ptolemy III (247-221 BCE) attacked the northern King Seleucus II (246-225 BCE). Ptolemy III would enter the fortress of the king of the north, as he would be successful. He would take their spoils and booty back to Egypt, including the idols of their gods, as well as their precious silver and gold vessels. There were a few years of peace, but then the northern King Seleucus II attacked the south unsuccessfully and returned home.

The futile activities of these temple priests (Bar 6:33-6:35)

“The priests

Take some

Of the clothing

Of their gods

To clothe

Their wives

Or their children.

Whether one does

Evil

To them

Or good,

They will not be able

To repay it.

They cannot

Set up a king.

They cannot

Depose a king.

Likewise

They are not able

To give

Either wealth

Or money.

If one makes a vow

To them,

Then does not

Keep it,

They will not

Require it.”

These priests of the temple take some of the clothing from their gods to give to their wives and children. Whether anyone does good or evil to them, they are not able to return the favor or resist. They are unable to set up or depose a king as the God of Israel can. They seem to have no control over wealth or money. If someone makes a vow, they do not require them to keep their vows.

Security in the foreign temples (Bar 6:18-6:19)

“Just as the gates

Are shut

On every side

Against anyone

Who has offended a king,

As though under sentence

Of death,

So the priests make

Their temples secure

With doors,

With locks,

With bars,

So that they may not be

Plundered

By robbers.

They light more lamps

For them

Than they light for themselves,

Even though their gods

Can see none of them.”

In an interesting bit of irony, this author points out that the foreign temples have a lot of security, as if the temples were in prison. These temples are like someone who has offended a king. They have gates on all sides of them, as if they are awaiting a death sentence. Their temple priests have secured their temples with doors, locks, and bars because they are afraid that robbers will come into the temple and steal things from it. They have so much light in the temple for themselves, rather than for their gods who cannot see anything anyway, with or without light.

King Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt (Jer 43:11-43:13)

“‘King Nebuchadnezzar

Shall come.

He shall ravage

The land of Egypt.

Giving those who are doomed

For pestilence,

To pestilence.

Giving those who are destined

For captivity.

To captivity.

Giving those who are doomed

For the sword

To the sword.

He shall kindle a fire

In the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them.

He shall carry them away captive.

He shall pick clean

The land of Egypt,

As a shepherd picks

His cloaks clean of vermin.

He shall depart

From there safely.

He shall break

The obelisks of Heliopolis

That is in the land of Egypt.

He shall break the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them with fire.’”

Jeremiah described what was going to happen when King Nebuchadnezzar would come to Egypt, which he did around 568 BCE. The Babylonian king was going to ravage the land of Egypt. Those who were destined for pestilence got pestilence. Those destined for the sword, got the sword. Those destined for famine, got a famine. This was real simple, but who decided who was destined for what? King Nebuchadnezzar was going to burn down the Egyptian temples and make the Judeans captives. He was going to pick the land clean in the same way that shepherds pluck bugs off their cloaks or coats. He would come and go safely. However, he would also break the ornate pillars or obelisks in the town of Heliopolis, the city of the sun worshipers, which was about 25 miles east of Memphis, 6 mile northeast of Cairo. He would also burn down the Egyptian temples and their gods, as well as tear down other pillars throughout the land of Egypt.