Cut off your foot (Mk 9:45-9:45)

“If your foot

Causes you

To stumble,

Cut it off!

It is better

For you

To enter life

Lame

Than to have

Two feet

To be thrown

Into hell.”

 

καὶ ἐὰν ὁ πούς σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε, ἀπόκοψον αὐτόν· καλόν ἐστίν σε εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν χωλὸν, ἢ τοὺς δύο πόδας ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν.

 

This saying about better to be lame than sin can also be found in Matthew chapter 18:8, with some minor changes, since he united the hand and foot together.  In a rather harsh statement, Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your foot (καὶ ἐὰν ὁ πούς σου) causes you to stumble or sin (σκανδαλίζῃ σε), cut it off (ἀπόκοψον αὐτόν).  It would be better for you to enter life lame (καλόν ἐστίν σε εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν χωλόν) than to have two feet (ἢ τοὺς δύο πόδας) but thrown into Gehenna or hell (ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν).  The Greek word for hell was “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna, based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom.  That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block, or snare was, get rid of it, even if it was one of your own feet.

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Cut off your hand (Mk 9:43-9:43)

“If your hand

Causes you

To stumble,

Cut it off!

It is better

For you

To enter life

Maimed

Than with two hands

And go to hell,

To the unquenchable fire.”

 

Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου, ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν· καλόν ἐστίν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν, ἢ τὰς δύο χεῖρας ἔχοντα ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν, εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον

 

This saying about better to be maimed than sin can also be found in Matthew chapter 18:8, with some minor changes since he united the hand and foot together.    In a rather harsh statement, Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your hand caused you to stumble, sin, or scandalize others (Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου), cut it off (ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν).  It would be better for you to enter life maimed or crippled (καλόν ἐστιν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν) than to have two hands (ἢ δύο χεῖρας).  Then you would go away into Gehenna (ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν), the unquenchable fire (εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον).  The Greek word for hell was “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna, based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom.  That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off maimed with one hand than being in these everlasting hell fires.  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block, or snare, get rid of it, even if it is one of your own hands.

Oholah and the Assyrian lovers (Ezek 23:5-23:7)

“Oholah played the whore,
While she was mine.
She lusted
After her lovers,
The Assyrians,
The warriors,
Clothed in blue.
They were
Governors
As well as commanders.
All of them were
Handsome young men.
They were
Mounted horsemen.
She bestowed
Her favors
Upon them.
They were
The choicest men
Of Assyria,
All of them.
She defiled herself
With all the idols
Of everyone
For whom she lusted.”
Oholah, which was Samaria, had the Assyrians as lovers. Even though Oholah was still united with Yahweh, she played the whore with the Assyrians to the north. She lusted after her lovers, these Assyrian warriors, dressed in blue colors. They were all handsome young governors and commanders mounted on horses. She bestowed her favors on them, the best men of Assyria. She defiled herself with all the idols of the men that she lusted after. Clearly Samaria was lusting after her northern neighbors in Assyria, since they were disloyal to Yahweh.

Oracle about the mighty nation (Isa 18:1-18:2)

“O land of whirring wings!

Beyond the rivers of Ethiopia!

They send ambassadors

By the Nile River

In vessels of papyrus

On the waters.

Go!

You swift messengers!

Go to a tall nation!

Go to a smooth nation!

Go to a people

Feared near and far!

Go to a mighty nation!

Go to a conquering nation!

Go to a nation

Whose land the rivers divide!”

Quite often Egypt and Ethiopia were united together. The older name of Ethiopia was Kush, one of the older sons of Ham, the son of Noah. Thus there was some relationship with them. Here it seems that they have swift ambassadors that use papyrus paper like vessels to deliver messages. The reference to a tall, smooth, mighty, and conquering nation could be Egypt, since there is a division between Ethiopia and Egypt.

The demand for wisdom (Wis 8:17-8:21)

“When I considered these things inwardly,

I pondered in my heart.

In kinship with wisdom

There is immortality.

In friendship with her,

There is pure delight.

In the labors of her hands,

There is unfailing wealth.

In the experience of her company,

There is understanding.

There is renown in sharing her words.

I went about seeking

How to get her for myself.

As a child

I was naturally gifted.

A good soul fell to my lot.

Rather being good,

I entered an undefiled body.

But I perceived

That I would not possess wisdom

Unless God gave her to me.

It was a mark of insight

To know whose gift she was.

So I appealed to the Lord.

I implored him.

With my whole heart,

I said.”

This author considered these things in his heart. When you are related to wisdom you have immortality (ἀθανασία ἐν συγγενείᾳ σοφίας). There is delight in her friendship and her laboring hands. There is wealth and understanding in her company. You will become famous by sharing her words. He wanted wisdom for himself. He had been a gifted child. Interesting enough there is the Platonic thought of the pre-existent soul (ψυχῆς) that was united to a wonderful body (εἰς σῶμα ἀμίαντον). He realized that he could not possess wisdom unless God gave (ὁ Θεὸς δῷ) him this gift (χάρις) to him. Thus he appealed and implored the Lord (τῷ Κυρίῳ) with his whole heart (ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας μου). This is reminiscent of the story in 1 Kings, chapter 3, when King Solomon asked Yahweh for the gift of wisdom.

The organization and activity around Mattathias (1 Macc 2:42-2:48)

“Then there united with them a company of Hasideans, the mighty warriors of Israel. All offered themselves willingly for the law. All who became fugitives to escape their troubles joined them and reinforced them.   They organized an army. They struck down sinners in their anger. They struck down renegades in their wrath. The survivors fled to the gentiles for safety. Mattathias and his friends went around and tore down the altars. They forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel. They hunted down the arrogant men. This work prospered in their hands. They rescued the law out of the hands of the gentiles and the kings. They never let the sinner gain the upper hand.”

Mattathias was joined by the Hasideans. These were “the pious ones,” the saints, the holy ones, the religious ascetics. They were strict followers of the Mosaic Law. They may have come out of the Nazarene movement of earlier times. These Hasideans may have merged into the Essences of the first century CE. Perhaps the Pharisees with their emphasis on the letter of the law may have developed from these Hasideans also. They were the mighty warriors of Israel, clearly against the creeping Hellenism of the 2nd century BCE. Anyone who had trouble with the law also joined Mattathias just as David had gathered around him those who had trouble with King Saul in 1 Samuel, chapter 22. This rugged group attacked Jewish sinners and renegades, those mentioned in chapter 1 of this book, who did not follow the Mosaic Law. They went around tearing down the pagan gentile altars. They forcibly circumcised any boy they found in Israel. They were like a righteous terrorist bully group that punished those who disagreed with them. However, they seem to have been succeeding.