The lilies (Lk 12:27-12:27)

“Consider the lilies!

They neither toil

Nor spin.

Yet I tell you!

Even Solomon,

In all his glory,

Was not clothed

Like one of these.”

 

κατανοήσατε τὰ κρίνα, πῶς οὔτε νήθει οὔτε ὑφαίνει· λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν, οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that they should consider the lilies (κατανοήσατε τὰ κρίνα).  They neither toil (πῶς οὔτε νήθει) nor spin (οὔτε ὑφαίνει).  Yet, Jesus said, with a solemn pronouncement (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν), that not even Solomon (οὐδὲ Σολομὼν) in all his glory (ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ), was clothed like one of these flowers (περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων).  Once again, Matthew, chapter 6:28-29, had a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source, about the lilies.  Matthew indicated that Jesus wanted to know why they were worried about their clothes (καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε).  He wanted them to look and consider the lilies of the field (καταμάθετε τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ).  This is the only time that the word “καταμάθετε” appears in the New Testament writings.  It means to understand, take in a fact, consider carefully.  These lilies grew without any weary work in the field or any spinning (πῶς αὐξάνουσιν· οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν).  The verb to spin, “νήθουσιν” is unique to Matthew among all the New Testament writings.  Matthew also had Jesus utter his solemn saying (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν) that King Solomon in all his glory (ὅτι οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ) did not have better looking clothing than these field flowers (περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων).  In 1 Kings, chapter 10:1-5, the Queen of Sheba remarked about the wonderful clothes of King Solomon and his palace. Thus, the lilies of the field looked great without any work or care.  Do you look good without any care or work?

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Lilies of the field (Mt 6:28-6:28)

“Why do you worry

About clothing?

Consider the lilies

Of the field!

How do they grow?

They do not toil.

They do not spin.”

 

καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε; καταμάθετε τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ πῶς αὐξάνουσιν· οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν·

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:27, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source, about the lilies.  Jesus wanted to know why they were worried about their clothes (καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε).  He wanted them to look and consider the lilies of the field (καταμάθετε τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ).  This is the only time that the word “καταμάθετε” appears in the New Testament writings.  It means to understand, take in a fact, consider carefully.  These lilies grew without any weary work in the field or any spinning (πῶς αὐξάνουσιν· οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν).  The verb to spin, “νήθουσιν” is unique to Matthew among all the New Testament writings.  Thus, the lilies of the field looked great without any work or cares.

Enjoy your wealth (Eccl 5:18-5:20)

“This is what I have seen to be good.

It is fitting is to eat and drink.

It is fitting to find enjoyment

In all the toil

With which one toils under the sun

The few days of the life

That God gives us.

This is our lot.

Likewise,

God gives wealth.

God gives possessions.

He enables them to enjoy them.

They should accept their lot.

They should find enjoyment

In their toil.

This is the gift of God.

They will scarcely brood

Over the days of their life

Because God keeps them occupied

With joy in their hearts.”

Qoheleth finally found something good. It was appropriate to eat and drink. You should find enjoyment in your work when you toil under the sun. God has given you a few days to enjoy all this. This is your lot in life, accept it. You may have wealth and possession, so enjoy them. Enjoy your work and any wealth that comes with it as a gift from God. Do not brood over the few days you have here on earth because God can keep you occupied with joy in your heart.

The futility of work (Eccl 4:4-4:6)

“Then I saw that all toil

 Comes from one person’s envy of another.

All skill in work

Comes from one person’s envy of another.

This also is vanity.

This is chasing after wind.

‘Fools fold their hands.

Fools consume their own flesh.

Better is a handful with quiet

Than two handfuls with toil

Chasing after wind.’”

Qoheleth saw that everyone worked with skill because of the envy that they had for others. This was useless, like chasing after the wind, never able to catch it. Fools fold their hands and devour themselves. It is much better to be quiet with a little bit of wealth than to toil with two handfuls. All work seems to be futile, like chasing after the unattainable wind.

The short life of humans (Ps 90:9-90:10)

“All our days pass away under your wrath.

Our years come to an end like a sigh.

The days of our life

Are seventy years.

The days of our life

Are perhaps eighty,

If we are strong.

Even though their span is only toil,

Even though their span is only trouble,

They are soon gone.

We fly away.”

Most of our days are spent under the wrath of God. However, our days come to an end like a sigh, a mere breath. The normal life was considered 70 years old, but if you were strong, 80 years might be possible. Even during these 70-80 years your life was nothing but toil and trouble. They pass away quickly as we soon fly away.

The condensed story (2 Macc 2:23-2:28)

“All of this has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes. We shall attempt to condense it into a single book. There is a considerable flood of statistics involved. The difficulty is that those who wish to enter upon the narratives of history find a mass of material. We have aimed to please those who wish to read it by making it easier for those who are inclined to memorize, and thus profit all readers. For us who have undertaken the toil of abbreviating, it is no light matter but calls for sweat and loss of sleep. It is not easy for one who prepares a banquet and seeks the benefit of others. Nevertheless, to secure the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil. We leave the responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our effort to arriving at the outlines of the condensation.”

Apparently there was a 5 volume work on the history of the Maccabees by a Jason of Cyrene. That work is now lost. This anonymous biblical author wanted to condense it down into 1 volume. This might be called the “Reader’s Digest” of the Maccabees story. He claimed that there was a lot of statistics and material about Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. He was going to make it easy to read and memorize in his abbreviated version. However, doing so was not easy, but like an uncomfortable task, like preparing a banquet. He was not going to sweat the details since he was more concerned with the outline in his condensation.