Surrounded on every side (Lk 19:43-19:43)

“Indeed,

The days

Will come upon you,

When your enemies

Will set up ramparts

Around you.

They will hem you in

On every side.”

 

ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus remarked that bad days were coming to Jerusalem (ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ).  Jesus said that it would come to them when their enemies would put up a barricade against them (καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι).  They would surround them (καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε) so that they would be hemmed in on every side (καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν).  This is the only Greek biblical use of the word περικυκλώσουσίν that means to hem them in on every side, encircle, surround, or encompass.  Jesus was using the words and images of the ancient Israelite prophets against Jerusalem.  Isaiah, chapter 29:1-3, called Jerusalem Ariel, a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar.  Isaiah, warned Jerusalem about what was going to happen to it.  Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it.  They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust.  Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile.  Jeremiah, chapter 6:6-8, warned Jerusalem that its enemies were going to cut down trees in order to make a ramp siege against Jerusalem, because this city needed to be punished.  There was nothing but oppression and wickedness within her.  Jerusalem was a place of violence and destruction with sickness and wounded people all around.  Yahweh was going to turn away in disgust against Jerusalem. Thus, it would become a desolate uninhabited land, if it did not heed his warning.  Ezekiel, chapter 4:1-3, also condemned Jerusalem with Ezekiel’s symbolic action.  A voice told Ezekiel to be an expert model Lego builder of the siege of Jerusalem.  Ezekiel, the son of man, was to take a brick and portray the city of Jerusalem.  He was to put the siege works with a siege wall against this city.  He was to put a ramp and camps against this city with battering rams all around it.  Then he was to take an iron plate and make an iron wall between himself and the city, looking at it.  Thus, there was a state of siege, a sign for the house of Israel.  Ezekiel was part of the exiles from 598 BCE before the taking of Jerusalem and the second captivity in 587 BCE.  Of course, here this was allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Roman soldiers putting down a revolution in Judea.  Luke would have known about this at the time of his writing.  Have you ever seen a city destroyed?

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Ariel (Isa 29:1-29:4)

“Woe to you!

Ariel!

Ariel!

This is the city

Where David encamped!

Add year to year!

Let the festivals run their round!

Yet I will distress Ariel!

There shall be moaning!

There shall be lamentation!

Jerusalem shall be to me

Like an altar hearth.

Like David,

I will encamp against you.

I will besiege you with towers.

I will raise siege works against you.

Then deep from the earth,

You shall speak.

From low in the dust,

Your words shall come.

Your voice shall come from the ground

Like the voice of a ghost.

Your speech shall whisper

Out of the dust.”

Ariel is a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar. Yahweh, via Isaiah, warns Jerusalem about what is going to happen to it. Perhaps this is before the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE. Jerusalem was where King David had lived and where festivals continued on an annual basis. However, Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it. They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust. Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile.

The actions of the enemy (Sir 12:16-12:18)

“An enemy speaks sweetly

With his lips.

But in his heart,

He plans to throw you

Into a pit.

An enemy may weep

With tears in his eyes.

But if he finds an opportunity,

He will never have enough of your blood.

If evil comes upon you,

You will find him there ahead of you.

He will pretend to help.

But he will trip you up.

He will shake his head.

He will clap his hands.

He will whisper much.

He will show his true face.”

Beware of the enemy who speaks sweetly, but is actually planning to throw you into a pit. He may weep in front of you, but he is looking for an opportunity to kill you. If something evil happens to you, he will pretend to help. However, he is actually trying to trip you up. He will shake his head, clap his hands, and whisper much until he shows his true face.

Words of a fool (Prov 18:4-18: 8)

“The words of the mouth are deep waters.

The fountain of wisdom is a gushing stream.

It is not right

To be partial to the guilty.

It is not right

To subvert the innocent in judgment.

A fool’s lips

Bring strife.

A fool’s mouth

Invites a flogging.

A fool’s mouth

Is their ruin.

A fool’s lips

Are snares to themselves.

The words of a whisperer

Are like delicious morsels.

They go down into the inner parts of the body.”

The words that come out of one’s mouth are like deep waters. Wisdom is like a gushing fountain. You should not favor the guilty or subvert the innocent with bad judgments. The lips of fools bring strife. Their mouths invite a whipping. Precisely the mouth of the fool is the cause of his ruin. Their lips snare themselves. They get caught in their own foolish words. However, the words of the deceptive ones who whisper in your ear are like delicious treats that go down into the inner parts of your body and ruin your body.

The hymn to the all powerful God (Job 26:5-26:14)

“The shades below tremble.

The waters and their inhabitants tremble.

Sheol is naked before God.

Abaddon has no covering.

He stretches out Zaphon over the void.

He hangs the earth upon nothing.

He binds up the waters in his thick clouds.

The cloud is not torn open by them.

He covers the face of the full moon.

He spreads over it his cloud.

He has described a circle on the face of the waters.

He has described a circle at the boundary between light and darkness.

The pillars of heaven tremble.

They are astounded at his rebuke.

By his power he stilled the sea.

By his understanding he struck down Rahab.

By his wind the heavens were made fair.

His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

These are indeed but the outskirts of his ways.

How small a whisper do we hear of him!

But the thunder of his power,

Who can understand?”

Then Job broke into a hymn about the all powerful God. Could this be from Bildad?   In very explicit colorful language, he describes the power of God over all things. This is the vision of earth, Sheol, and heaven. Sheol and Abaddon are similar, like a bottomless pit. Abaddon will become a person in the Christian book of Revelation. Here it is like another name for Sheol, so that even those below must recognize the power of God since they have no place to hide or cover up. Zaphon is the northern mountain area of the Canaanite gods, something like the Greek Mount Olympus. The earth was suspended over an abyss. The water in the clouds was still accepted today as the cause of rain. Only God could make it rain and break the clouds. He also had control of the moon creating eclipses. God was of course responsible for the boundary between water and earth as well as light and darkness. There were even pillars in heaven that were afraid of him. Perhaps these pillars are the mountains that seem to reach up into the heavens. Obviously he controlled the sea and the mythical sea monster Rahab. Rahab was also the name of the prostitute, who helped the troops of Joshua, chapter 2. God then pierced the fleeing serpent, perhaps a reference to Genesis, chapter 3. We mortals only catch a glimpse of his power like a whisper when he thunders. The idea that God spoke through thunder was prevalent. However, we cannot understand all this.

The vision of Eliphaz (Job 4:12-4:21)

“Now a word came stealing to me.

My ear received the whisper of it.

Amid thoughts from visions of the night,

When deep sleep falls on mortals,

Dread came upon me.

Trembling made all my bones shake.

A spirit glided past my face.

The hair of my flesh bristled.

It stood still.

But I could not discern its appearance.

A form was before my eyes.

There was silence.

Then I heard a voice.

‘Can mortals be righteous before God?

Can human beings be pure before their Maker?

Even in his servants he puts no trust.

His angels he charges with error.

How much more those who live in houses of clay,

Whose foundation is in the dust,

Who are crushed like a moth.

Between morning and evening,

They are destroyed.

They perish forever without any regarding it.

If their tent-cord is plucked up within them,

They die devoid of wisdom.’”

Eliphaz had some kind of vision or heavenly revelation. It is not clear when this took place. Somehow this non-Israelite had a divine intervention in his life like a whisper at night in his ear while he was asleep. Dread came upon him as a spirit glided past his face and the hair on his body bristled or stood up. He could not see what this was, but he could hear a voice asking how can mortal human beings be righteous, upright, and innocent? If the angels or God’s servants make errors and are not trustworthy, how much more humans made of clay and dust. Man as clay and dust is reminiscent of Genesis, chapter 2. Between morning and evening, humans could be crushed like moths, completely destroyed. Humans can die without wisdom or a pre-mature death, if their tent-cord is plucked.   This is the only biblical usage of a tent-cord. It must have been the thing that held the tent up so that if it was missing, the tent collapsed. So too with humans, death came when something essential was missing.