Many people were baptized by John (Lk 3:21-3:21)

“All the people

Were baptized.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν

 

Mark, chapter 1:5, and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, spoke about all the people coming out to be baptized by John the Baptist.  Matthew, like Mark, mentioned that all the people from Jerusalem and the Judean area were going out to see John the Baptist.  However, Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region as well as all the people of Jerusalem were going out to see John   Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  Luke here, on the other hand, gave no geographical indications.  He simply generically stated that all the people were baptized (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν).  Once again, “all” might be an exaggeration.  John baptized these people in the Jordan River, while they were confessing their sins.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John held a central role in the gospels of Mark and Luke, since they started their stories about Jesus with John.

Pharisees and Scribes complain about the disciples of Jesus (Mk 7:2-7:2)

“These Pharisees and Scribes

Noticed

That some of

Jesus’ disciples

Were eating

With defiled hands,

Without washing them.”

 

καὶ ἰδόντες τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ὅτι κοιναῖς χερσίν, τοῦτ’ ἔστιν ἀνίπτοις, ἐσθίουσιν τοὺς ἄρτους,

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:2, and Luke chapter 11:38.  Mark said that these Pharisees and Scribes had seen or noticed that the disciples of Jesus (καὶ ἰδόντες τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ) were eating bread (ἐσθίουσιν τοὺς ἄρτους) with defiled hands (ὅτι κοιναῖς χερσίν) because they did not wash their hands.  Thus, they ate with unwashed hands (τοῦτ’ ἔστιν ἀνίπτοις).  Wash you hands before you eat!

People were baptized (Mk 1:5-1:5)

“People from the whole

Judea countryside,

And all the people

Of Jerusalem

Were going out

To John.

They were baptized

By him

In the Jordan River,

Confessing their sins.”

 

καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες, καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, are very similar here, almost word for word.  Luke and John do not have these statements about the people that John baptized.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region (πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα), as well as all the people of Jerusalem (καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες) were going out to see John (καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν).  Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  They were being baptized by John (καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ) in the Jordan River (ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ), confessing their sins (ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν).  Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John holds a central role in the Gospel of Mark since he started his story about Jesus with John here.

Why do they not wash their hands before eating? (Mt 15:2-15:2)

“They said.

‘Why do your disciples

Break the tradition

Of the elders?

They do not wash

Their hands

Before they eat.’”

 

Διὰ τί οἱ μαθηταί σου παραβαίνουσιν τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων; οὐ γὰρ νίπτονται τὰς χεῖρας ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:2-5 and Luke chapter 11:39.  These Pharisees wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus (Διὰ τί οἱ μαθηταί σου) did not wash their hands before they ate bread (οὐ γὰρ νίπτονται τὰς χεῖρας ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν).  They said that this action was a transgression or violation against the tradition of the elders (παραβαίνουσιν τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων).  Originally, this practice of washing hands before eating was what the Levites did in the Temple to practice ritual purity as indicated in Exodus, chapter 30:17-21.  Yahweh had told Moses that there should be a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing.  Thus, Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet when they went into the meeting tent or the altar.  The penalty for not washing your hands and feet was death under this perpetual ordinance.  However, the Pharisaic oral tradition, or the tradition of the elders, had extended this practice to individual homes.

John baptized people (Mt 3:6-3:6)

“They were baptized

By him

In the Jordan River,

Confessing their sins.”

 

καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.

 

Once again, Matthew followed Mark, chapter 1:5. All these people were baptized by John in the Jordan River (καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ), which would have been north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon. Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty. Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins (ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν). John’s baptism had a few unique qualities since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.

The difficult day of your birth (Ezek 16:4-16:5)

“As for your birth,

On the day

You were born

Your navel cord

Was not cut.

You were not washed

With water

To cleanse you.

You were not rubbed

With salt.

You were not wrapped

In clothes.

No eye pitied you.

No one did

Any of these things

For you

Out of compassion

For you.

But you were

Thrown out

In the open field.

You were abhorred

On the day

You were born.”

Apparently when Jerusalem was born, she did not have the usual amenities of child birth. The following things seemed to have happened at child birth at that time. Obviously, the navel cord, which would normally have been cut, was not done so. There was no washing of the child, nor the rubbing with salt as a protective element, nor being wrapped in clothing. No one pitied Jerusalem or had compassion for this city. She was simply thrown out into the open field to fend for herself.  She was abhorred from the day of her birth. She had a difficult first day.

Lamentation over Babylon (Isa 47:1-47:4)

“Come down!

Sit in the dust!

O virgin daughter Babylon!

Sit on the ground

Without a throne!

O daughter Chaldea!

You shall no more

Be called tender!

You shall no more

Be called delicate!

Take the millstones!

Grind the meal!

Remove your veil!

Strip off your robe!

Uncover your legs!

Pass through the rivers!

Your nakedness shall be uncovered.

Your shame shall be seen.

I will take vengeance.

I will spare no one.

Our Redeemer

Is the Holy One of Israel.

Yahweh of hosts

Is his name!”                                     

This is a unique kind of Hebrew lamentation. Yahweh God has stripped the unconquered virgin Babylon of its royal throne. The Chaldeans, who were from the southern part of Babylon, would no longer be considered tender and delicate. Now they were to do the work of slaves, grinding the meal with millstones. On top of that, they were to strip down, taking their veils off and removing their robes, so that their legs would be uncovered. They would be shamefully naked as washing in a river. Yahweh with his army was going to take vengeance on them, so that no one would be spared. Yahweh is the redeemer and the Holy One of Israel.