The forty day fast (Lk 4:2-4:2)

“For forty days,

Jesus was tempted

By the devil.

He ate nothing

At all

During those days.

When these days

Were over,

He was very hungry.”

 

ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν.

 

This text is like Matthew, chapter 4:2, almost word for word, indicating a common source, perhaps Q.  Luke said that Jesus was tempted (πειραζόμενος) for 40 days (ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα) by the devil (ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου).  During this time or in those days (ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις), Jesus did not eat anything at all (Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν), since he was fasting.  When the 40 days were over or completed (καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν), Jesus was really hungry or famished (ἐπείνασεν).  There was a symbolism in this fast of 40 days.  Luke did not mention 40 nights, like Matthew.  Fasting was a common Hebrew exercise, while 40 was the same number of years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  Jesus was really hungry at the end of his 40 day fast.  The devil, the personification of evil, tempted Jesus.  Mark, chapter 1:13, has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, and Luke.  All 3 synoptics agreed that Jesus was in the wilderness 40 symbolic days.  All agreed that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil, the adversary or the accuser.  This concept of the adversary showed the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile.  The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong.  Mark said that Jesus was with the wild beasts, but this remark was not found in the other longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke.  Mark made it seem like the temptation was physical, like the fear of wild animals, as he then said that the good angels ministered to Jesus, waiting on him and taking caring for him.

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Temptations in the wilderness (Mk 1:13-1:13)

“Jesus was

In the wilderness

Forty days.

He was

Tempted by Satan.

He was

With the wild beasts.

The angels

Ministered to him.”

 

καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.

 

Mark has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, chapter 4:2-11, and Luke, chapter 4:2-13.  Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days (καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας).  All 3 synoptics agree on the 40 days, since there was a symbolism to this number with the 40 years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  All agree that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil (πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ).  Satan was the adversary or the accuser after the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile.  The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong.  Sometimes the devil was referred to as the personification of evil.  Why was Jesus tempted?  God, the Father, Yahweh, often tested the righteous ones and the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.  Luke and Matthew are very similar with their detailed account of these 3 temptations.  Mark does not mention Jesus fasting or any of the 3 specific detailed temptations that are in Luke and Matthew.  Jesus was with the wild beasts (καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων), but this remark was not found in the longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke, only here.  Mark makes it seem like the temptation was physical or like the fear of wild animals.  Then the angels ministered to him (καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ).  This is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 4:11, but there were no angels ministering to Jesus in Luke, chapter 4:13.  Here, a number of angels came, as in 1 Kings, chapter 19:4-8, where an angel came to help Elijah when he was in the desert, as the shadow of Elijah appeared in many of these gospel stories.  These angels came to wait on and care for Jesus.

Cry to Yahweh (Ps 74:18-74:19)

“Remember this!

Yahweh!

How the enemy scoffs!

An impious people revile your name.

Do not deliver the soul of your dove

To the wild beasts!

Do not forget

The life of your poor forever!”

This was a cry to Yahweh. He had to remember his dove. The enemy was scoffing at them. These impious people were reviling the name of God. They did not want to be sent to the wild beasts. Asaph, the psalmist, wanted Yahweh to remember and not forget the poor people of his chosen ones.

The life of the Behemoth (Job 40:19-40:24)

“It is the first of the great acts of God.

Only its Maker can approach it with the sword.

The mountains yield food for it.

It is there where all the wild beasts play.

Under the lotus plants it lies.

It lies in the covert of the reeds and in the marsh.

The lotus trees cover it for shade.

The willows of the brook surround it.

Even if the river is turbulent

It is not frightened.

It is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth.

Can one take it with hooks?

Can one pierce its nose with a snare?”

Clearly this monster has limits since it was the work of God. Only God the maker can kill it. It lives in the mountains where all the wild beasts play. It lies under a lotus tree for shade in the reeds, willows, and marshes. Even when the Jordan River is turbulent, it is not worried. No one can catch it with hooks or snares. This sure sounds like a large hippo! It is not clear if there is more than one of these large beasts.