The call of Elijah (Mt 27:47-27:47)

“When some of the bystanders

Heard Jesus,

They said.

‘This man

Is calling Elijah.’”

 

τινὲς δὲ τῶν ἐκεῖ ἑστηκότων ἀκούσαντες ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἡλείαν φωνεῖ οὗτος.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:35.  However this episode was not in Luke, chapter 23, or John, chapter 19.  Matthew said that some of the bystanders heard the cry of Jesus on the cross (τινὲς δὲ τῶν ἐκεῖ ἑστηκότων ἀκούσαντες).  They said that Jesus was calling for Elijah (ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἡλείαν φωνεῖ οὗτος).  Elijah often came to help the good people who were in need.  The name “Eli jah” was close to “Eli,” so that some people might have mistakenly thought that Jesus was crying for help from the ancient Israelite prophet Elijah.  Elijah was also a forerunner of the messianic times as was the case of John the Baptist.

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John the Baptist (Mt 3:1-3:1)

“In those days,

John the Baptist

Appeared

In the wilderness

Of Judea,

Preaching.”

 

Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας,

 

Matthew now switched to more common material about Jesus and his life. John the Baptist is mentioned in all four canonical gospels. In fact, if anything, Matthew seemed to be following Mark, chapter 1:4, since Mark began his gospel with this story. Matthew began this episode with his trademark transitional phrase, “In those days it happened (Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις).” John the Baptizer (Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς) came preaching (παραγίνεται…κηρύσσων) in the wilderness or desert in Judea (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας). This wilderness was southeast of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea. Apparently, John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE. He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement. Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist. He certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic. According to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1:36, John’s mother and Jesus’ mother were relatives of some sort. Both John and Jesus may have originally been co-workers. However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route. However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles. Some believe that Jesus may have been a follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as subservient to Jesus. Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, as in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6. There may have been some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Thus, John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while. John the Baptist died by beheading, as explained later in this gospel, chapter 14:10. Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

Announcement of the taking of Ashdod (Isa 20:1-20:1)

“In the year

That the commander in chief,

Who was sent

By King Sargon of Assyria,

Came to Ashdod,

He fought

Against it.

He took it.”

Isaiah attempts to put this episode into a specific historical event, perhaps 711 BCE. The Assyrian King Sargon II (722-705 BCE) sent his commander in chief on a successful attack to take the city of Ashdod, a Philistine city along the Mediterranean seacoast that had sought the protection of Egypt. This city had revolted against the Assyrian rulers at the instigation of the Egyptians.