Beware of the Pharisees (Lk 12:1-12:1)

“Meanwhile,

The crowd gathered

By the thousands,

So that they trampled

On one another.

Jesus began to speak,

First to his disciples.

‘Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees,

That is,

Their hypocrisy.’”

 

Ἐν οἷς ἐπισυναχθεισῶν τῶν μυριάδων τοῦ ὄχλου, ὥστε καταπατεῖν ἀλλήλους, ἤρξατο λέγειν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ πρῶτον Προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης, ἥτις ἐστὶν ὑπόκρισις, τῶν Φαρισαίων.

 

Luke continued with a diatribe against the Pharisees.  Luke indicated that the crowd gathered by the thousands (Ἐν οἷς ἐπισυναχθεισῶν τῶν μυριάδων τοῦ ὄχλου), so that they trampled on one another (ὥστε καταπατεῖν ἀλλήλους).  This was the first mention of a problem with crowd control.  Jesus then began first to speak to his disciples (ἤρξατο λέγειν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ πρῶτον).  He told them that they should be aware (Προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς) of the yeast (ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης) that is the hypocrisy (ἥτις ἐστὶν ὑπόκρισις) of the Pharisees (τῶν Φαρισαίων).  This saying about the yeast of the Pharisees can be found in Mark, chapter 8:16, and Matthew, chapter 16:6, but there are slight differences.  Mark and Luke did not mention the Sadducees, but Matthew did.  Matthew said that Jesus told his disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Matthew had a clear rebuff of both these groups and their growing yeast, leaven, or power that was expanding, but there was no mention of the Scribes.  For Mark and Matthew, this discussion took place about bread on a boat trip.  The disciples discovered that they had no food when they landed on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  However, Mark said that it took place while they were still in the boat.  Mark was the only one to mention Herod, the Roman appointed political leader in Galilee.  Mark said that Jesus cautioned or instructed his disciples.  They were to watch out for and be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.  This was a clear rebuff of both the Pharisees and Herod.  Their growing yeast, leaven, or power was expanding.  Here, it is a simple warning against the Pharisees only.  Do you know anybody who is a hypocrite?

The fraudulent traders (Am 8:4-8:6)

“Hear this!

You trample

On the needy!

You bring to ruin

The poor of the land!

Saying!

‘When will the new moon

Be over?

Then we may sell grain.

When will the sabbath

Be over?

Then we may offer wheat

For sale.

We will make the ephah

Small.

We will make the shekel

Great.

We will practice deceit

With false balances.

We will buy

The poor

For silver.

We will buy

The needy

For a pair of sandals.

We will sell

The sweepings

Of the wheat.’”

This was a very strong indictment against the commercial traders in Israel.  These traders trampled on the needy and ruined the poor people.  They complained about the new moon and Sabbath services, since these worship services interfered with their trading activities.  They wanted these services to be over so that they could continue selling their grain and wheat.  They used false balances or deceptive scales, as they made the ephah smaller and the shekel greater.  They would buy poor people with silver to make them slaves.  They would even buy the needy people with a pair of sandals.  They also sold the left-over wheat sweepings to make even more money.

Bad behavior (Am 5:10-5:13)

“They hate him

Who reproves

At the gate.

They abhor him

Who speaks the truth.

Therefore,

You trample

On the poor.

You take from them,

Levies of grain.

You have built houses

Of hewn stone.

But you shall not live

In them.

You have planted

Pleasant vineyards.

But you shall not drink

Their wine.

I know how many are

Your transgressions.

I know how great are

Your sins.

You afflict the righteous.

You take a bribe.

You turn aside

The needy

At the gate.

Therefore,

The prudent will keep silent

In such a time.

It is an evil time.”

Next, Amos listed all the bad behavior that the northern Israelites were involved with. They did not like any reprimanding at the city judgment gate. They did not like anyone who told the truth. They trampled the poor people, as they took away their grain. They had built beautiful stone houses, but they were not going to live in them. They had planted wonderful vineyards, but they would not drink the wine from them. Amos and Yahweh knew all about their various transgressions and how great their sins were. They took bribes, mistreated the righteous, and turned away the needy at the gate. The prudent people kept silent during this evil time.

Against Israel (Am 2:6-2:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Israel,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they sell

The righteous

For silver.

They sell the needy

For a pair of sandals.

They trample

The head of the poor

Into the dust

Of the earth.

They push the afflicted

Out of the way.

A father

With his son

Goes into the same girl.

So,

My holy name

Is profaned.

They lay themselves down

Beside every altar,

On garments

Taken in pledge.

In the house

Of their god,

They drink

The wine

Bought with fines

They imposed.”

Finally, Yahweh issued a diatribe against Israel itself. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language or literary form as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Israelites were, also involved in the slave trade, as they sold the righteous ones for silver. At the same time, they sold the needy for a pair of shoes or sandals. They trampled the heads of the poor into the dust of the earth. Both father and son would have sex with the same temple female prostitute. They profaned the holy name of Yahweh, as they laid down at any altar, with garments that they had taken as interest down payments. They drank wine in the houses of their gods bought with the fines that they had imposed on the poor people. They had committed serious crimes.

The little horn grew strong (Dan 8:9-8:10)

“Out of one of them

Came another horn,

A little one.

It grew exceedingly great,

Toward the south,

Toward the east,

Toward the beautiful land.

It grew as high,

As the host

Of heaven.

It threw down

To earth

Some of the host,

Some of the stars.

It cast them down

To the ground.

It trampled on them.”

Once again, the little horn is the big problem, as in the last vision. This little horn is a reference to a member of the Seleucids branch, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This little horn grew great towards the south, the east, and into the beautiful land, the land of Israel. This little horn also grew tall to the heavens. It threw down some of the hosts of heaven and the stars of the sky. It cast them down to the ground and trampled on them.

The goat attacked the ram (Dan 8:6-8:7)

“The goat came toward

The ram

With the two horns,

That I had seen

Standing

Beside the river.

It ran at him

With a savage force.

I saw it

Approaching

The ram.

The goat was enraged

Against it.

The goat struck

The ram,

Breaking

Its two horns.

The ram

Did not have power

To withstand it.

The goat threw

The ram down

To the ground.

The goat trampled

Upon the ram.

There was no one

Who could rescue

The ram

From its power.”

Next Daniel witnessed the attack of the goat against the ram. The goat was angry, so that it struck the ram, breaking its 2 horns. Here is an indication that Alexander the Great, the goat, had attacked the Persians and Medes, the 2-horned ram. The ram could not recover, as the goat threw the ram to the ground and trampled over it. There was no one there to rescue the ram from the power of this goat.

The lament about the desolation (Jer 12:10-12:13)

“Many shepherds have destroyed

My vineyard.

They have trampled down my portion.

They have made my pleasant portion

A desolate wilderness.

They have made it a desolation.

Desolate!

It mourns to me.

The whole land is made desolate.

But no one lays it to heart.

Upon all the bare heights

In the desert,

Spoilers have come.

The sword of Yahweh devours

From one end of the land

To the other.

No one shall be safe.

They have sown wheat.

They have reaped thorns.

They have tired themselves out

But they profit nothing.

They shall be ashamed of their harvests

Because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.”

Jeremiah continues with Yahweh’s lament about the desolation of his land. The shepherd leaders destroyed his vineyards. They have trampled his land from one end to the other end until it is a desolate wilderness, but no one seems to care. The spoilers have come from all over to devour the land. No one was safe from Yahweh’s sword. After they had sown wheat, they only harvested thorns. They worked hard, but without any gain. They were going to be ashamed of their harvests, because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.