They bring the head of John the Baptist (Mk 6:27-6:28)

“Immediately,

The king

Sent a soldier

Of the guard.

He gave orders

To bring John’s head.

He went.

He beheaded him

In the prison.

He brought

His head

On a platter.

He gave it

To the girl.

Then the girl

Gave it

To her mother.”

 

καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ,

καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 14:10-11.  Mark said that King Herod immediately sent out one of his guard to be an executioner (καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα).  He commanded him to bring back the head of John the Baptist (ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ).  He sent his executioner guard to behead John in the prison at Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  This guard beheaded John in the prison (καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ).  It is not clear whether they waited around for the head of John to come back.  Beheading was one of the ways to make sure a person was dead.  Then John’s head was brought on a platter or dish to Herod (καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι).  He then gave it to the girl (καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ), who then gave it to her mother (καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς), Herodias.  This was her revenge against John the Baptist, because he had criticized her marriage to Herod.  Off with his head!

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The growth to harvest time (Mk 4:28-4:29)

“The earth produces of itself.

First, there is the stalk.

Then comes the head.

Then there is

The full grain

In the head.

But when the grain

Is ripe,

At once,

He goes in

With his sickle,

Because the harvest

Has come.”

 

αὐτομάτη ἡ γῆ καρποφορεῖ, πρῶτον χόρτον, εἶτεν στάχυν, εἶτεν πλήρης σῖτος ἐν τῷ στάχυϊ.

ὅταν δὲ παραδοῖ ὁ καρπός, εὐθὺς ἀποστέλλει τὸ δρέπανον, ὅτι παρέστηκεν ὁ θερισμός.

 

Jesus, via this unique parable of Mark, explored the life of a farmer and the wonder of growth until the harvest time came.  The earth bore fruit by itself (αὐτομάτη ἡ γῆ καρποφορεῖ) without the help of any humans.  First, there was the stalk plant (πρῶτον χόρτον), then the head (εἶτεν στάχυν) and then finally the full grain in the head or ear (εἶτεν πλήρης σῖτος ἐν τῷ στάχυϊ).  However, when the grain was ripe or the fruit appeared (ὅταν δὲ παραδοῖ ὁ καρπός), at once (εὐθὺς), he went with his sickle (ἀποστέλλει τὸ δρέπανον), because harvest time had arrived (ὅτι παρέστηκεν ὁ θερισμός).  The kingdom of God was like a farmer who watched his crop grow and waited for the harvest time, before he gathered in his crop.

 

The false visions (Ezek 13:5-13:7)

“‘You have not gone up

Into the breaches.

You have not

Repaired a wall

For the house of Israel.

Thus it might stand

In battle

On the day

Of Yahweh.

They have envisioned

Falsehood

With lying divinations.

They say.

‘Says Yahweh,’

When Yahweh

Has not sent them.

Yet they wait

For the fulfillment

Of their word.

Have you not seen

A false vision?

Have you not uttered

A lying divination?

You have said.

‘Says Yahweh,’

Even though,

I did not speak.’”

Once again, Yahweh showed a strong opposition to these false prophets who had not repaired any of the walls for the house of Israel. They had not helped Israel prepare for a battle. These prophets have issued false prophetic “so called” divine words. They claimed that they were speaking oracles in the name of Yahweh, when Yahweh had not sent them. They waited for responses from these false visions. They kept lying by saying that Yahweh said this or that, even though Yahweh had not spoken to them.

They refuse to accept the words of Jeremiah (Jer 43:1-43:3)

“Thus Jeremiah finished speaking

To all the people

All these words

Of Yahweh their God,

With which Yahweh their God

Had sent him to them.

Then Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the other insolent men,

Said to Jeremiah.

‘You are telling a lie.

Yahweh our God

Did not send you

To say.

‘Do not go to Egypt

To settle there!’

But Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Is inciting you

Against us.

He wants to hand us over

To the Chaldeans.

Thus they may kill us.

Or they may take us

Into exile in Babylon.’”

During the 10 days that Jeremiah waited for Yahweh, there must have been a change of heart in the camp. Some people think that this section should have been in the preceding chapter. This chapter equivalent in the Greek Septuagint is chapter 50, not chapter 43 as here. So once that Jeremiah had finished speaking the words that Yahweh, their God, gave him, both the leaders of this insolent remnant group, Azariah and Johanan, called into question Jeremiah’s veracity. They said that Jeremiah was lying. Yahweh did not say to him that they should not settle in Egypt. It must have been his secretary Baruch who incited Jeremiah against the main group. They said that Baruch wanted them to be captured or killed by the Chaldeans, if they stayed in this Judean territory. They might he sent into captivity in Babylon, if they were caught there. Basically, it was a fight between the interests of Egypt versus the interests of Babylon.

Prayer to God for his presence (Isa 64:1-64:5)

“O that you would tear open the heavens!

O that you would come down!

Thus the mountains would quake

At your presence!

Fire kindles brushwood.

Fire causes water to boil.

I want to make your name

Known to your adversaries.

Thus the nations might tremble

At your presence!

When you did awesome deeds

That we did not expect

You came down.

The mountains quaked

At your presence!

From ages past,

No one has heard,

No ear has perceived,

No eye has seen any God

Besides you.

You work for those

Who wait for you.

You meet those

Who gladly do right.

You meet those

Who remember you in your ways.”

This prophet wants Yahweh to be present among his people by tearing open the heavens to come down to earth. He wanted to see the mountains quake at his presence. He wanted Yahweh to be kindling wood in a brush that would start a fire or have that same fire make water boil. He wanted Yahweh’s name known to his adversaries. He wanted the nations to tremble at the sight of Yahweh. He wanted something unexpected to happen, like the mountains shake in his presence. He wanted something that no one had ever heard of or seen before. Only God could do this awesome deed. No one besides him. God would appear to those who waited for him. He would meet those who gladly did the right thing by remembering God’s ways.

The effects of indispensable wisdom (Wis 8:10-8:15)

“Because of her

I shall have glory among the multitudes.

I shall have honor in the presence of the elders,

Even though I am young.

I shall be found keen in judgment.

In the sight of rulers

I shall be admired.

When I am silent,

They will wait for me.

When I speak,

They will give heed.

When I speak at greater length,

They will put their hands on their mouths.

Because of her

I shall have immortality.

I shall leave an everlasting remembrance

To those who come after me.

I shall govern peoples.

Nations will be subject to me.

Dread monarchs will be afraid of me

When they hear of me.

Among the people

I shall show myself capable.

I shall be courageous in war.”

The influence of wisdom on his life was remarkable. Because of wisdom living with him, he had glory among the multitudes and honor among the elders (παρὰ πρεσβυτέροις), even though he was young. His keen judgment was clear among the great rulers (δυναστῶν). When he was silent, they waited for him to speak. When he spoke, they listened and put their hands on their mouths. He now had immortality (ἀθανασίαν) with an everlasting remembrance (μνήμην αἰώνιον) for future generations. He would then govern people. Many nations would be subject to him. Even tyrants (τύραννοι) would be afraid of him. He would be capable and courageous in war.