The dinner with the tax collectors (Lk 5:29-5:29)

“Then Levi

Gave

A great banquet

For Jesus

In his house.

There was a large crowd

Of tax collectors

And others

Sitting at the table

With them.”

 

Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι.

 

Luke said that Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus (Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ) in his house (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  There was a large crowd of tax collectors (καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν) and others (καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν) sitting or reclining at the table with them (μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι).  Mark, chapter 2:15, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Mark and Luke explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi.  Perhaps Levi was wealthy enough to have a house big enough for a large banquet.  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Levi as he was about to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in Levi’s house.  However, besides the tax collectors, Mark and Matthew said that a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline with Jesus and his disciples.  However, Luke simply called them “others.”  These tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The others or sinners, on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral unclean Jewish men.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  Matthew said some of the disciples of Jesus were there.  He also said that this meal was in a house without indicating whose house.  Would it have been the house of Jesus in Capernaum?  Presumably, it was the house of Matthew, the tax collector, since other tax collectors were there also.

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Levi the tax collector (Lk 5:27-5:27)

“After this,

Jesus went out.

He saw a tax collector,

Named Levi,

Sitting

At the tax booth.

He said to him.

‘Follow me!’”

 

Καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐξῆλθεν, καὶ ἐθεάσατο τελώνην ὀνόματι Λευεὶν καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἀκολούθει μοι.

 

The call of Levi or Matthew follows the story of the paralytic healing in all three synoptic gospels.  Luke said that Jesus went out (Καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐξῆλθεν), presumably in Capernaum.  There he saw a tax collector (καὶ ἐθεάσατο τελώνην), named Levi (ὀνόματι Λευεὶν), sitting at the tax booth (καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον).  He said to him (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ) to follow him (Ἀκολούθει μοι).  Mark, chapter 2:14, and Matthew, chapter 9:9, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  However, there are some significant differences.  Matthew called this man Matthew instead of Levi, his Jewish name.  Luke also followed Mark in calling him Levi.  Matthew and Luke did not mention his father, but Mark did.  It was strange that if this Matthew the apostle was the author of this gospel, why he did not mention the name of his father.  Both Matthew and Mark said that Jesus was walking along, when he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, or Matthew, sitting in his tax office, toll booth, or tax booth.  Jesus simply said to him to follow him.

The meal with the tax collectors (Mk 2:15-2:15)

“And as he sat

At dinner

In Levi’s house,

Many tax collectors

And sinners

Were also sitting

With Jesus

And his disciples.

There were many

Who followed him.”

 

Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ, καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ, ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ.

 

Luke, chapter 5:29, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Here and in Luke, it was explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi (Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors (καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι) were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Levi as he was about to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in this house.  However, besides the tax collectors, a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline (καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο) with Jesus and his disciples (τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ).  The tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The sinners (ἁμαρτωλοὶ), on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral Jewish men, who were unclean.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  However, many people were already followers of Jesus (ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ).  How were these followers different from his disciples?

Curing the girl (Mt 9:25-9:26)

“When the crowd

Had been put outside,

Jesus went in.

He took her

By the hand.

Then the girl got up.

The report of this

Spread throughout

That district”

 

ὅτε δὲ ἐξεβλήθη ὁ ὄχλος, εἰσελθὼν ἐκράτησεν τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς, καὶ ἠγέρθη τὸ κοράσιον.

καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ φήμη αὕτη εἰς ὅλην τὴν γῆν ἐκείνην.

 

This curing of the girl is similar to what can be found in Mark, chapter 5:41-42, and Luke, chapter 8:54-55.  However, here the story is very succinct and the news spread quickly.  Jesus had the crowds put outside (ὅτε δὲ ἐξεβλήθη ὁ ὄχλος).  Then he went into (εἰσελθὼν) where the dead girl was.  He took her by the hand (ἐκράτησεν τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς).  Then this girl got up (καὶ ἠγέρθη τὸ κοράσιον).  This is somewhat like the prophet Elijah who brought a child back to life in 1 Kings, chapter 17:17-24.  The news of this event spread all over this land or district (καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ φήμη αὕτη εἰς ὅλην τὴν γῆν ἐκείνην).  There was no attempt here to keep it quiet.

Seventy years of desolation (Dan 9:2-9:2)

“In the first year

Of his reign,

I,

Daniel,

Perceived

In the books,

According to the word

Of Yahweh

To Jeremiah,

The prophet,

The number of years,

That must be fulfilled

For the devastation

Of Jerusalem,

Namely,

Seventy years.”

This chronology would put this event at about 538 BCE, right near the beginning of the Persian or Mede rule. Daniel, using the first-person singular, seemed to be familiar with the prophet Jeremiah, chapters 25 and 29, although they were almost contemporaries. Thus, 70 years of desolation was coming to Jerusalem from 587-517 BCE.