The widow’s petition (Lk 18:3-18:3)

“In that city,

There was a widow

Who kept coming

To him.

Saying.

‘Grant me justice

Against my opponent!’”

 

χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν λέγουσα Ἐκδίκησόν με ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου.

 

Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the bad judge.  Luke indicated that Jesus said there was a widow in that city (χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ).  She kept coming to this bad judge (καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν).  She said (λέγουσα) that she wanted justice or restitution (Ἐκδίκησόν με) against her opponent or adversary (ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου).  Widows were the powerless and vulnerable in Jewish society, since they had lost the support of their husbands.  People would always be reminded to help the poor and the widows, as they were considered the same class of people, since generally, older women without husbands were poor.  This particular widow had a case against someone, so that she kept coming back to his bad judge to achieve justice or vengeance on her part.  Have you ever sued anyone?

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Divorced women commit adultery (Mk 10:12-10:12)

“If she divorces

Her husband,

And marries another,

She commits adultery.”

 

καὶ ἐὰν αὐτὴ ἀπολύσασα τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς γαμήσῃ ἄλλον, μοιχᾶται.

 

This is unique to Mark, since in Jewish society, women could not divorce their husbands, but in Roman society or among the gentiles, women could divorce their husbands.  However, Jesus gave the same rebuke as he gave the men.  If a woman divorced her husband (καὶ ἐὰν αὐτὴ ἀπολύσασα τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς), and married someone else (γαμήσῃ ἄλλον), she committed adultery (μοιχᾶται).  There were no exceptions, not even for spousal abuse.  The new marriage was adulterous.

The great individual mourning period (Zech 12:11-12:14)

“On that day,

The mourning in Jerusalem

Will be as great

As the mourning

For Hadad-rimmon

In the plain of Megiddo.

The land shall mourn.

Each family shall mourn

By itself,

The family of the house of David

Shall mourn by itself.

Their wives shall mourn

By themselves.

The family of the house of Nathan

Shall mourn by itself.

Their wives shall mourn

By themselves.

The family of the house of Levi

Shall mourn by itself.

Their wives shall mourn

By themselves.

The family of the Shimeites

Shall mourn by itself.

Their wives shall mourn

By themselves.

All the families that are left,

Shall mourn,

Each by itself.

Their wives shall mourn

By themselves.”

There would be great mourning in Jerusalem, but it would not be a communal mourning.  Each family and group would mourn separately.  Even their wives would also mourn separately from their husbands.  This great grieving in the city itself would be just like the mourning for the local fertility idol god of Hadad-rimmon in the Megiddo area.  It may also be a reference to the death of the religious reforming King Josiah of Judah (640-609 BCE) in Megiddo.  Each family would mourn by itself.  Thus, the house of David, the house of Nathan, the house of Levi, and the house of the Shimeites would grieve separately by themselves with their wives by themselves.  Nathan was the son of David, while Shimei was the grandson of Levi and the son of Gershon.  All these groups had separate families.  The segregated wives of these individual families all had separate mourning activities.

The warning (Am 4:1-4:3)

“Hear this word!

You cows of Bashan!

You are on Mount Samaria!

You oppress the poor!

You crush the needy!

You say

To your husbands.

‘Bring something to drink!’

Yahweh God

Has sworn

By his holiness.

The time is surely coming

Upon you,

When they shall take you away

With hooks,

Even the last of you,

With fishhooks.

Through breaches

In the wall,

Shall your leave.

Each one will go

Straight ahead.

You shall be flung out

Into Harmon.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has another oracle of Yahweh against the rich women of the mountains of Samaria. Yahweh compared them to the rich lazy cows grazing on the wonderful pastures in Bashan, on the other side of the Jordan River, where the best cows were raised. These rich women had oppressed the poor and crushed the needy. They wanted their husbands to bring them something to drink. Yahweh said that the time was coming when they would be taken away with fish hooks. They would leave their city through the holes in the walls. They would all march out to be thrown into Harmon, some unknown place where they would have to live as exiles.

Don’t blame the women (Jer 44:19-44:19)

“The women said.

‘Indeed,

We will go on

Making offerings

To the queen of heaven.

We will pour out libations

To her.

Do you think

That we made cakes

For her,

With her image,

Without our husbands

Being involved?

Do you think

That we poured out libations

To her

Without our husbands

Being involved?’”

This is one of the few times that women as a group speak. Mostly, it is the men or groups of men who speak. These women complained that their husbands were complicit in this worship of the “Queen of heaven.” Entire families were involved in this goddess worship as indicated in chapter 7 of this work. The children gathered the wood. The men used it to build altars to worship this goddess. The women kneaded the dough and baked cakes with the image of this “Queen of heaven.” None of this would have been possible without their husbands being involved. Women worshiped this fertility goddess because of the importance of bearing children. In fact, quite often the most important role for women was precisely giving birth to a child, since most women desired to have children. Thus, this fertility goddess worship of a “Queen of heaven” was quite common in most ancient societies, even among the Israelites, as can be seen here. This “Queen of heaven” was not a foretelling of the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, but rather a nod to the Canaanite female fertility goddess, Astarte, the wife of Baal.

Poem on trust (Jer 3:19-3:20)

“I thought

How would I set you

Among my children?

How would I give you

A pleasant land?

How would I give you

The most beautiful heritage

Of all the nations?

I thought

You would call me,

My Father!

I thought

That you would not turn

From following me.

Surely,

As a faithless wife

Leaves her husband,

So have you been faithless to me,

O house of Israel!’

Says Yahweh.”

This seems to be a thoughtful poem about the lack of trust on the part of the Israelites. Yahweh, via Jeremiah, was thinking about his children, the Israelites. He wanted to give them a pleasant land, the most beautiful heritage among all the countries of the world. They then would call Yahweh father. They would not turn away from him. However, they turned out to be like faithless wives, who leave their husbands. So too, the house of Israel has been faithless to him. There is no mistaking his thoughts and intentions.