The father embraces the son (Lk 15:20-15:20)

“Thus,

The prodigal son

Set off.

He went

To his father.

But while he was

Still far off,

His father saw him.

He was filled

With compassion.

He ran to him.

He put his arms

Around him.

He kissed him.”

 

καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ. ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, καὶ δραμὼν ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν.

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this prodigal son set off to go to his father (καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ).  While he was still far away (ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος), his father saw him (εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ).  He was filled with compassion (καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη).  He ran to him (καὶ δραμὼν).  He put his arms around him or fell upon his neck (ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ) and he kissed him (καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν).  In case there was any doubt, the father was going to accept the prodigal sinning son without any conditions.  There was not even an “I’m sorry!” from the son.  This compassionate father ran out to embrace him before he even got close to their house.  Obviously, he was out in the fields working.  Do you feel closer to the wasteful repentant prodigal son or the compassionate forgiving father?

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The Rechabites (Jer 35:2-35:2)

“Go to the house

Of the Rechabites!

Speak with them!

Bring them

To the house of Yahweh,

Into one of the chambers!

Then offer them wine

To drink!’”

This short chapter is all about the Rechabites. They get their name from Rechab, who was mentioned in 1 Chronicles, chapter 2, listed under the descendants of Hur. They seem to be descendants of Hammath, a northern city, or Hemath, a Kenite, who was also called Hobab. The Rechabites were not descendants of Jacob, but Kenites, a people originally settled in that part of Arabia called the land of Midian. They may have been the descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, who was a Kenite. Thus these Rechabites were not true Israelites, but were friendly to the Israelites. They were generally nomads in the desert, living in tents. The most prominent Rechabite may have been Jehonadab or Jonadab, the son of Rechab, in 2 Kings, chapter 10, where he joined with King Jehu of Israel (841-814 BCE) in helping wipe out the family of King Ahab of Israel (874-853 BCE). Yahweh told Jeremiah to go to their house, talk to them, and bring them back to the Temple in Jerusalem. There he was to find a chamber in the Temple and offer these Rechabites some wine. This seems like a simple task.

What is better? (Sir 40:21-40:25)

“The flute makes

A sweet melody.

The harp makes

A sweet melody,

But a pleasant voice is

Better than either.

The eye desires grace.

The eye desires beauty.

But the eye desires

Green shoots of grain

More than either.

A friend is always welcome

A companion is always welcome.

But a sensible wife is

Better than either.

Kindred are for a time of trouble.

Helpers are for a time of trouble.

But almsgiving rescues

Better than either.

Gold makes one stand firm.

Silver makes one stand firm.

But good counsel is

Esteemed more than either.”

Sirach continues with his questions about what is better. However, here the answer is not wisdom. While wine and music gladden the heart, the love of friends is actually better for a happy heart. While the flute and the harp make sweet melodies, a pleasant singing voice is sweeter than both. While the eye desires grace and beauty, the eye, especially of a farmer, prefers to see the green sprouts of grain in the fields. Everyone welcomes a friend or companion in their house, but a sensible wife in the house is much better. In troubled times, family members and helpers can be supportive, but actually almsgiving helps you better than both family and friends. While gold and silver can help you stand firm, good counsel is better than both gold and silver.

The problems of Job (Job 1:13-1:19)

“One day Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house. A messenger came to Job and said.

‘The oxen were plowing.

The donkeys were feeding beside them.

The Sabeans fell upon them.

They carried them off.

They killed the servants with the edge of the sword.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘The fire of God fell from heaven.

It burned up the sheep and the servants.

It consumed them.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘The Chaldeans formed three columns.

They made a raid upon the camels.

They carried them off.

They killed the servants with the edge of the sword.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘Your sons and daughters were eating

And drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house.

Suddenly a great wind came across the desert.

It struck the four corners of the house.

It fell on the young people.

They are dead.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’”

Once again, we begin with the once upon a time concept of “one day” back here on earth. The 10 children of Job were eating and drinking wine together. In a very oral stylistic format, 4 messengers, one after another come to tell him the bad news about his estate and his family. The repetition of lines for each group indicates an oral tradition that made it easy to remember. First, the Sabeans, a southern Arab tribe or traders where present day Yemen is, stole his 500 oxen and 500 donkeys. They also killed all the servants except one. The queen of Sheba may have been from Sheba and part of the Semitic Sabeans, somehow a descendent of Shem, the son of Noah. Secondly, lightning from heaven, the fire of God, destroyed and burned the 7,000 sheep as well as the servants watching them, except for one. Thirdly, the Chaldeans, a predominant Semitic tribe near the Persian Gulf that was taken over by the Babylonians around 600 BCE, stole all his 3,000 camels. They killed all his servants watching them except one. Finally, all his 10 children died when their house fell on them during a great wind storm. The servants all died, except one. Disaster has hit Job on many fronts. Foreigners stole his livestock. Lightning and windstorms destroyed his family and sheep.