The Pharisee and the tax collector (Lk 18:10-18:10)

“Two men

Went up

Into the Temple

To pray.

One was

A Pharisee.

The other was

A tax collector.”

 

Ἄνθρωποι δύο ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν προσεύξασθαι, ὁ εἷς Φαρισαῖος καὶ ὁ ἕτερος τελώνης.

 

Luke has Jesus tell a parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector that is only found in this gospel.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that two men (Ἄνθρωποι δύο) went up into the Temple (ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν) to pray (προσεύξασθαι).  One was a Pharisee (ὁ εἷς Φαρισαῖος).  The other was a tax collector (καὶ ὁ ἕτερος τελώνης).  Both of these men were well intentioned, since they went to the Temple to pray to God, a good thing.  Socially, they were of two different strata.  The Pharisee was a pillar of Jewish society as an interpreter of the Mosaic Law.  The tax collector, on the other hand, was considered a traitor to the Jewish community, since he worked for the Roman Empire, the occupation force.  These tax collectors were often compared to public sinners.  The contrast was real and set out at the beginning of this story.  Is there a social strata in your religious culture?

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The final two apostles (Lk 6:16-6:16)

“The last two were

Judas,

The son of James,

And Judas Iscariot,

Who became a traitor.”

 

καὶ Ἰούδαν Ἰακώβου, καὶ Ἰούδαν Ἰσκαριὼθ, ὃς ἐγένετο προδότης,

 

Luke said that the last two apostles were both called Judas (καὶ Ἰούδαν), the son of James (Ἰακώβου), and Judas Iscariot (καὶ Ἰούδαν Ἰσκαριὼθ), who became a traitor (ὃς ἐγένετο προδότης).  These last two are problematic for different reasons.  One of these names is similar to Mark, chapter 3:18-19 and Matthew, chapter 10:4, Judas Iscariot, who was on all 3 lists of apostles, with some unfavorable comment about him as a traitor.  However, he was excluded from the list in the in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1:13.  As far the other Judas was concerned, there is some more confusion, since he does not appear in Matthew and Mark, who only list a Thaddeus.  Luke and the Acts listed him as Jude or Judas, the son of James, not Thaddeus.  Are these two-different people or just two different names?  Is this Jude Thaddeus like Simon Peter and Levi Matthew?  Did he have both a Jewish and a Greek name?

 

The Babylonian king likes Jeremiah (Jer 39:11-39:12)

“King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Gave a command

Concerning Jeremiah,

Through Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard.

Saying.

‘Take him!

Look after him well!

Do him no harm!

But deal with him

As he may ask you.’”

There was no mention of the prophet Jeremiah in 2 Kings at all, which has led many to speculate about his existence. Obviously this book has a lot to say about Jeremiah. King Nebuchadnezzar liked Jeremiah because he had constantly told the Judean king and others to serve the king of Babylon. Thus the Babylonian king told the captain of his guard Nebuzaradan to care for Jeremiah and not hurt him. In fact, Nebuzaradan was to do whatever Jeremiah asked him to do. Thus Jeremiah may have been a traitor to Judah as a collaborator with the king of Babylon.

The problem of bribery (2 Macc 10:18-10:23)

“At least nine thousand people took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a siege. Judas Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, as well as Zacchaeus and his troops, a force sufficient to besiege them. He himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed. But those with Simon, who were money-hungry, were bribed by some of those who were in the towers. On receiving seventy thousand drachmas, they let some of people slip away. When word of what had happened came to Judas Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the people. He accused these men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. Then he killed these men who had turned traitor. He then immediately captured the two towers. Having success at arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.”

This incident was not found in 1 Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus set up a siege around 2 towers. He left his brothers Simon and Joseph in charge with Zacchaeus and his troops to keep up the siege. However, some money-hungry men with Simon, his brother, were bribed by people in the tower. A drachma was a Greek coin probably worth about $25.00 USA. 70,000 of these would be about a little less than 2 million ($2,000,000.00) dollars, a handsome sum. I do not know what they were going to do with this money. Anyway, Judas Maccabeus found out that many had escaped by paying this bribe. Apparently there were only a few people under Simon who were doing this so he had them killed. Then they captured the strongholds and killed the rest of them, some 20,000 people.

The disgrace of Ptolemy (2 Macc 10:12-10:13)

“Ptolemy, who was called Macron, took the lead in showing justice to the Jews because of the wrong that had been done to them. He attempted to maintain peaceful relations with them. As a result he was accused before Eupator by the king’s friends. He heard himself called a traitor at every turn, because he had abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted to him. He had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Unable to command the respect due his office, he took poison and ended his life.”

Ptolemy Macron had been in charge of Cyprus under the Egyptian King Ptolemy VI Philometor, who ruled from 180-145 BCE. King Ptolemy VI was the young king defeated by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV, who then outlived him. Ptolemy switched his allegiance from the Egyptian king to the King Antiochus IV so that he became the governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia. He treated the Jews fairly so that there were complaints that he was a traitor to the young King Antiochus V. Everyone said that he could not be trusted. He poisoned himself and died. This is a strange story that seems to indicate that anyone who was kind to the Jews was not favored by the new king. However, he did commit suicide.

King Antiochus IV despoils the Temple (2 Macc 5:11-5:16)

“When news of what had happened reached the king, he took it to mean that Judea was in revolt. So, raging inwardly, he left Egypt. He took the city by storm. He commanded his soldiers to cut down relentlessly every one they met. They were to kill those who went into the houses. Then there was a massacre of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, with the slaughter of young girls and infants. Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting. Almost as many were sold into slavery as were killed. Not content with this, King Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in the whole world, guided by Menelaus, who had become a traitor both to the laws and to his country. He took the holy vessels with his polluted hands. He swept away with profane hands the votive offerings that other kings had made to enhance the glory and honor of the place.”

Up until now this author has spent a lot of time explaining what was happening with the high priests in Jerusalem. Now he picks up the part of the story that can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. King Antiochus IV heard about the uprising of the former high priest Jason against the present high priest Menelaus. He believed that this was a revolt against him. He left Egypt because the Romans told him to do so. There was no mention of the massive slaughter of the people in Jerusalem in 1 Maccabees. Here 80,000 people were killed, 40,000 in hand to hand fighting. Nearly 40,000 were sold into slavery. The emphasis in 1 Maccabees was on the despoiling of the Temple, not the destruction of the people since they simply said that he shed blood and spoke with arrogance in 169 BCE. Here the king pollutes the Temple with his profane hands also. There is no mention of the specifics of what he took as in 1 Maccabees.