Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2-19:2)

“A man was there

Named Zacchaeus.

He was a chief tax collector.

He was rich.”

 

Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ ὀνόματι καλούμενος Ζακχαῖος, καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἀρχιτελώνης, καὶ αὐτὸς πλούσιος

 

Only Luke uniquely talked about this man in Jericho (Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ), named Zacchaeus (ὀνόματι καλούμενος Ζακχαῖος), who was a rich (καὶ αὐτὸς πλούσιος) chief tax collector or head of a customs house (καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἀρχιτελώνης).  Luke was the only biblical writer to use this term ἀρχιτελώνης, that means a chief tax collector, head of a custom-house, chief tax-gatherer, or publican.  Zacchaeus was an important man in Jericho because of his wealth and his position in charge of tax collecting there.  His very name, Zacchaeus, meant righteous or upright in Hebrew.  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  What do you think about people who work for the IRS and collect taxes?

To preach or not to preach (Mic 2:6-2:7)

“‘Do not preach!’

This is what they preach.

‘One should not preach

Of such things.

Disgrace will not

Overtake us.’

Should this be said?

O house of Jacob!

Is Yahweh’s patience

Exhausted?

Are these his doings?

Do not my words

Do good

To him

Who walks uprightly?’”

Micah indicated the difference between false preaching and true preaching.  Was Micah to preach or not?  Did he only have to say good things in order to preach?  Should he be careful about what he said?  Is it disgraceful to speak about bad things?  Has Yahweh exhausted all his patience?  However, Micah believed that his harsh words from Yahweh would help those who were upright.  The evil ones would not like to hear about their evil ways.

The caretakers of the idol gods (Bar 6:26-6:28)

“Those who serve

These idol gods

Are ashamed.

If any of these gods

Fall to the ground,

They themselves

Must pick them up.

If anyone sets them upright,

These gods

Cannot move themselves.

If they are tipped over,

They cannot straighten themselves.

Gifts are placed

Before them

Just as before the dead.

The priests sell

The sacrifices

That are offered

To these gods.

They use the money themselves.

Their wives likewise

Preserve some of the meat

With salt.

But they give none of it

To the poor

Or the helpless.”

Next this author attacks those who take care of these idol gods. These caretakers were themselves ashamed. If any of these gods fell to the ground, they must pick them up. They have to set these gods upright since they cannot move themselves. If these idols are tipped over, they cannot up right themselves. In other words, there has to be someone around these false idol gods, because if anything happens to them, these caretakers have to straighten things out. Gifts are placed before these images, just like gifts for the dead. However, these caretaker priests often sell the sacrifices that were offered to these gods. Then they would use the money for themselves. Their wives likewise would preserve some of the meat with salt. However, they gave none of it to the poor or the helpless.

The wise man (Prov 29:8-29:11)

“Scoffers set a city aflame.

But the wise turn away wrath.

If the wise go to law with fools,

There is ranting.

There is ridicule without relief.

The bloodthirsty hate the blameless.

They seek the life of the upright.

A fool gives full vent to his anger.

But the wise quietly hold it back.”

The scoffers or the cynics will set a city in flames with their comments. The wise, on the other hand, will turn away or stay away from anger. If there is a dispute about the law, the wise will win out because the fools will be ranting away and ridiculed non-stop. The bloodthirsty evil men hate the blameless since they seek the life of the upright ones. Fools give vent to their anger but the wise ones hold back quietly.

The value of wisdom (Prov 16:16-16:17)

“How much better to get wisdom than gold!

It is better to get understanding

Rather than choose silver.

The highway of the upright avoids evil.

Those who guard their way preserve their lives.”

Once again the value of wisdom outweighs that of gold and silver. It is better to have understanding than silver. Wisdom is greater than gold. The road of the upright avoids evil ways. The upright turn away from evil. They guard their life in order to preserve it.

The wicked (Prov 15:8-15:12)

“The sacrifice of the wicked is

An abomination to Yahweh.

But the prayer of the upright is

His delight.

The way of the wicked is

An abomination to Yahweh.

But he loves whoever

Pursues righteousness.

There is severe discipline

For one who forsakes the way.

But one who hates rebuke will die.

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before Yahweh.

How much more the human hearts!

Scoffers do not like to be rebuked.

They will not go to the wise.”

The wicked are so bad that their sacrifice to Yahweh is an abomination. However, the prayer of the upright is delightful to Yahweh. The way of the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh because Yahweh loves righteousness. He rebukes those who forsake his way. However, the wicked do not like to be rebuked. These wicked ones will die and go to Sheol, the shadowy underground world, or Abaddon, the bottomless pit. Those cynic scoffers do not like to be rebuked either. They refuse to go with their human heart in following the wise ones.

The wicked (Prov 14:9-14:13)

“Fools mock at the guilt offering.

But the upright enjoy God’s favor.

The heart knows its own bitterness.

No stranger shares its joy.

The house of the wicked will be destroyed.

But the tent of the upright will flourish.

There is a way that seems right to a person.

But its end is the way to death.

Even in laughter

The heart is sad.

The end of joy is grief.”

Although the Hebrew text is difficult, it appears that fools do not see any value in the guilt offering. God scorns the wicked people, but he enjoys the upright ones. The heart knows the bitterness that no stranger can share in. The house of the wicked person will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will be fine. Sometimes we think that we are on the right path but it may actually lead to death. Even when some people laugh, their heart is sad, since the end of their joy leads to grief.