Herod kills all the two-year old boys (Mt 2:16-2:16)

“When Herod saw

That he had been tricked

By the magi,

He was infuriated.

He sent men

To kill

All the male children

In and around Bethlehem

Who were two years old

Or under.

This was based

According to the time frame

That he had ascertained

From the magi.”

 

Τότε Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν παρὰ τῶν μάγων.

 

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Herod realized that he had been tricked or outwitted by the magi (Τότε Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων), those tricky magicians.  He was very angry (ἐθυμώθη λίαν), so he sent out people (ἀποστείλας).  He ordered them to kill all the little infant boys (ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας) under the age of 2 in the Bethlehem area and vicinity (τοὺς ἐν Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς).  He picked the age of 2 and under (ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω) based on the information about the time frame (κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν) about the birth of this child that he had understood from the magi (παρὰ τῶν μάγων).  However, since the Bethlehem area was sparsely populated, this might have meant that he only killed about 20 children at most.  Thus, there would not have been wide spread panic, except in Bethlehem itself.  This story of the killing of the infant male children is like that of the Israelite male children in Exodus, chapter 1:15-22, where Moses was saved, just like Jesus here.  There, the Egyptian king told the midwives to kill every male Israelite baby.  Finally, he had all the Israelite male babies thrown into the Nile River.

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The exposed prostitute city of Nineveh (Nah 3:4-3:7)

“Because of the countless

Debaucheries

Of the prostitute,

Her graceful allure

As the mistress of sorcery,

She enslaved nations

Through her debaucheries.

She enslaved people

Through her sorcery.

‘I am against you.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will lift up

Your skirts

Over your face.

I will let nations look

On your nakedness.

I will let kingdoms

Look on your shame.

I will throw filth at you.

I will treat you

With contempt.

I will make you

A spectacle.

Then all who see you

Will shrink from you.

They will say.

‘Nineveh is devastated.

Who will bemoan her?

Where shall I seek comforters

For her?’”

Nahum said that Nineveh had become a prostitute by her actions.  She had been a graceful alluring mistress sorcerer.  She had enslaved people through her debaucheries, her sensual sexual corruption.  Nineveh tricked people with her sorcery.  However, Yahweh said that he was against Nineveh.  He would force her to lift up her skirts over her face, so that all the different countries could see her nakedness.  Everyone would see her shame.  Yahweh was going to throw filth at her.  He was going to treat her with contempt, making a spectacle out of Nineveh.  Then, everyone who saw Nineveh would shrink from her, because they would say that she was devastated.  There would be no one to moan or comfort her.  Nineveh would go away in disgrace.

Jacob in Aram (Hos 12:12-12:12)

“Jacob fled

To the land of Aram.

There Israel served

For a wife.

He guarded sheep

For a wife.”

This incident about Jacob or Israel can be found in Genesis, chapter 29. Jacob went east and found his cousin Rachel, whom he wanted to marry. He was tricked into marring her sister Leah. However, he stayed on to take care of the sheep of his uncle Laban, so that he would have Rachel as his wife also.

The example of Jacob (Hos 12:2-12:6)

“Yahweh has an indictment

Against Judah.

He will punish Jacob

According to his ways.

He will repay him

According to his deeds.

In the womb,

He tried to supplant

His brother.

In his manhood,

He strove with God.

He strove

With the angel.

He prevailed.

He wept.

He sought his favor.

He met him

At Bethel.

There God spoke

with him.

Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

Yahweh is his name!

But as for you,

Return to your God!

Hold fast

To love!

Hold fast

To justice!

Wait continually

For your God.”

Here Hosea referred to the stories about Jacob in Genesis, chapters 25, 28, 32, and 35. Somehow, this is an indictment against Judah and not Israel. Jacob should have been punished and repaid for his bad deeds. He had tried to supplant his brother. He actually tricked his father, but there is no mention of that. He wrestled with God or an angel, and won. Yet he wept and sought out God at Bethel. There, God spoke to him to tell him that his name was Yahweh. He wanted Jacob, Judah, Israel, and Ephraim to hold fast to love and justice. They were to continually wait for God.

The speech of Rabshakeh (Isa 36:4-36:7)

“Rabshakeh said to them.

‘Say to King Hezekiah.

Thus says the great king of Assyria.

On what do you base this confidence of yours?

Do you think that mere words are strategy?

Do you think that power is for war?

On whom do you now rely?

You have rebelled against me.

See!

You are relying on Egypt,

That broken reed of a staff,

That will pierce the hand

Of any man who leans on it.

Such is the Pharaoh King of Egypt

To all who rely on him.

But you say to me.

‘We rely on Yahweh our God.’

Is it not he whose high places

That King Hezekiah has removed?

Is it not he whose altars

King Hezekiah has removed?”

In words that are word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 18, Isaiah presents this speech from Rabshakeh meant for King Hezekiah of Judah (716-687 BCE). His diatribe, in the name of King Sennacherib of Assyria (706-681 BCE), implies that King Hezekiah had rebelled against the King of Assyria, since he now had a treaty with the Egyptian Pharaoh. Rabshakeh maintained that Judah had to be with either Assyria or Egypt. Rabshakeh told them not to be tricked by Egypt since they were a broken reed that would pierce their hands. He mocked the Israelites for saying that they relied on Yahweh, since King Hezekiah had torn down all the idol shrines during his religious reforms. However, there was no mention of the altar at Jerusalem here.

The righteous Jacob (Wis 10:9-10:12)

“Wisdom rescued from troubles

Those who served her.

When a righteous man fled

From his brother’s wrath,

She guided him on straight paths.

She showed him the kingdom of God.

She gave him knowledge of holy things.

She prospered him in his labors.

She increased the fruit of his toil.

When his oppressors were covetous,

She stood by him.

She made him rich.

She protected him from his enemies.

She kept him safe

From those who lay in wait for him.

In his arduous contest

She gave him the victory.

Thus he might learn

That godliness is more powerful

Than anything else.”

Wisdom also helped the righteous Jacob as we have a condensed version of the story of Jacob in Genesis, chapters 25-32. Of course, the unnamed Jacob is called a just man (δίκαιον) who served wisdom (σοφία). He fled from his brother’s anger after he had tricked Esau out of his birthright. Jacob had dreams that told him about the kingdom of God (βασιλείαν Θεοῦ) and the heavenly angels. Jacob went to live with Laban, the brother of his mother, or his uncle. He then married his 2 first cousins, Rachel and Leah, while he worked for his uncle. He then became rich before he got into a fight with his uncle Laban. For some reason, Jacob was considered righteous as opposed to Esau and Laban in their various disputes.

The Assyrians discover the death of General Holofernes (Jdt 14:14-14:19)

“Bagoas went in as he knocked at the entry of the tent. He assumed that General Holofernes was sleeping with Judith. But when no one answered, he opened it. Then he went into the bedchamber. There he found General Holofernes sprawled on the floor dead, with his head missing. He cried out with a loud voice. He wept, groaned and shouted. He tore his clothes. Then he went to the tent where Judith had stayed. When he did not find her, he rushed out to the people and shouted.

‘The slaves have tricked us!

One Hebrew woman has brought disgrace

On the house of King Nebuchadnezzar!

Look!

General Holofernes is lying on the ground!

His head is missing!’

When the leaders of the Assyrian army heard this, they tore their tunics. They were greatly dismayed. Their loud cries and shouts rose up throughout the camp.”

Bagoas was the chief personal steward of General Holofernes. He politely knocked at the entry way to the general’s tent. He thought that the general was sleeping with Judith and did not want to disturb him. However, when no one answered, he entered the bedchamber.   There he found the general sprawled out on the floor beheaded. He was really upset. He wept, groaned, and shouted as he tore his clothes. When people were upset they would tear their clothes. Then he went to the tent of Judith to see how she was. However, she was gone. Then he realized what had happened. He ran out of the tent shouting that they had been tricked by the slaves. This Hebrew woman had brought disgrace to the house of King Nebuchadnezzar. The general was dead with his head missing. When the Assyrian army leaders heard this, they tore their clothes as they too were dismayed. Thus there were loud shouts throughout the camp. Strangely enough, there was no second in command to take over things.