The sword (Lk 2:35-2:35)

“The inner thoughts

Of many

Will be revealed.

A sword

Will pierce

Your own soul too.”

 

 καὶ σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία, ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί.

 

Luke explained that Simeon warned Mary about her future suffering.  This is often thought of as the beginning of the many sorrows that Mary will endure because of her son, Jesus.  Luke said that a sword would pierce or go through the soul of Mary (καὶ σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία).  Simeon said that the inner thoughts of many would be revealed (ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί).  Thus, the later medieval devotion to the Sorrowful Mother Mary is based on this passage and further developed in this gospel of Luke.

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Prophecy of Zechariah (Mt 21:4-21:5)

“This took place

To fulfill

What had been spoken

Through the prophet.

Saying.

‘Tell the daughter of Zion!

Look!

Your king is coming

To you,

Humble,

Mounted on a donkey,

And on a colt,

The foal of a donkey.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών Ἰδοὺ ὁ Βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι πραῢς καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὄνον καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that this activity took place (Τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν) to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet (ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος).  Although not named, this prophet was Zechariah, chapter 9:9, one of the 12 minor prophets that lived in the 6th century BCE under Persian rule.  This prophet had said to tell the daughter of Zion (Εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών) to look for their king coming to them (Ἰδοὺ ὁ Βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι).  He would be humble, mild, or gentle (πραῢς), but mounted on a donkey (καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὄνον) and a colt, that was the foal or son of a donkey (καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου).  This was an actual misreading of the prophet, since Zechariah had spoken of a young colt donkey, who had been the foal of a donkey, not two separate animals.  Matthew used this passage to show how Jesus was the expected Israelite king.  He was to be the prince of peace.  Originally, Yahweh wanted Zion or Jerusalem to shout and rejoice, because their new king was coming.  He would be triumphant, victorious, and humble at the same time, but riding on a young donkey colt.  Matthew’s intention was clear.  Jesus was the expected messiah king.

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 1:22-1:23)

“All this took place

To fulfil

What had been spoken

By the Lord

Through the prophet.

‘Look!

The virgin young woman

Shall conceive.

She shall bear a son.

They shall name him

Emmanuel.’

This translated means.

‘God with us.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.

 

This dream with the angelic message took place (Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν), so that the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 7, would be fulfilled (πληρωθῇ). Matthew said that these were the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet (τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος), without explicitly naming Isaiah. When you look at the context of this saying in Isaiah, he was talking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David. He said that Yahweh was going to give them a sign that a young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, would have a child. This child would be called Emmanuel that meant “God is with us.” Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus, as here in Matthew. However, the original context in Isaiah seems to indicate that King Ahaz would have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz turned out to be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. A key to understanding this interpretation of Isaiah is the Greek word ἡ παρθένος. Does this mean a young woman or a virgin? The assumption was that all young women who were not married were virgins, without explicitly saying that this Greek word meant virgin. This young virgin girl had a child in her womb (ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει). She was going to have a son (καὶ τέξεται υἱόν). They were going to name this son Emmanuel (καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ,). Matthew seems to imply that this Hebrew word Emmanuel needed to be translated (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον) into Greek for his readers. Thus, he explained that it meant “God is with us.” This actually was in the original Isaiah statement, but Isaiah never used the word translated (μεθερμηνευόμενον). Thus, God will be with us in the person of Jesus, the Savior, Emmanuel. There is no mention of an anointed one or Christ here.

The new ruler of Israel (Mic 5:3-5:4)

“Therefore,

He shall give them up

Until the time

When she who is in labor

Has brought forth.

Then the rest

Of his brethren

Shall return

To the people of Israel.

He shall stand.

He shall feed his flock

In the strength of Yahweh,

In the majesty

Of the name of Yahweh,

His God.

They shall live secure.

Now he shall be great

To the ends of the earth.

He shall be the one of peace.”

Next Micah gave a description of this new Israelite ruler.  Apparently, this would take place after a long process of pregnancy labor.  Then the new ruler would be born when the rest of the people of Israel returned.  This new ruler would stand with them and feed them like his own flock.  He would stand in the majesty and strength of the name of Yahweh, his God.  They then would live secure.  This new ruler would be great, since he would be a man of peace, known to the ends of the earth.  It is easy to see why many of the early Christians applied this passage to Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem.