Eating and drinking (Mt 11:18-11:19)

“John came

Neither eating

Nor drinking.

They said.

‘He has a demon.’

The Son of man came

Eating

And drinking.

They said.

‘Look!

A glutton!

A drunkard!

A friend of tax collectors!

A friend of sinners!’

Yet wisdom is vindicated

By her deeds.”

 

ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάνης μήτε ἐσθίων μήτε πίνων, καὶ λέγουσιν Δαιμόνιον ἔχει.

ἦλθεν ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων, καὶ λέγουσιν Ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης, τελωνῶν φίλος καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν. καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς.

 

Then Matthew has Jesus take on their complaints about him and John the Baptist.  Luke, chapter 7:33-35, has a similar statement, word for word, indicating a possible common Q source.  When John came (ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάνης), they said he had a demon (καὶ λέγουσιν Δαιμόνιον ἔχει) because he would not eat or drink (μήτε ἐσθίων μήτε πίνων).  However, they called the Son of Man, Jesus, (ἦλθεν ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) a glutton and drunkard (φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης) because he was eating and drinking (ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων).  The Son of Man was a friend to tax collectors and sinners (τελωνῶν φίλος καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν).  The end result of wisdom would show up in their deeds (καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς).

 

The salt of the earth (Mt 5:13-5:13)

“You are

The salt of the earth!

But if salt

Has lost its taste,

How can saltiness

Be restored?

It is no longer good

For anything,

But is thrown out.

It is trampled

Under foot.”

 

Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ ἅλας τῆς γῆς· ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας μωρανθῇ, ἐν τίνι ἁλισθήσεται; εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσχύει ἔτι εἰ μὴ βληθὲν ἔξω καταπατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

 

This saying of Jesus can be found in Mark, chapter 9:49-50, and Luke, chapter 14:34-35, but not connected to the Beatitudes at all and with different phraseology. Salt was important not just as a spice and preservative but it represented wisdom and purity in the ancient world and Judaism. Matthew has Jesus turn to his disciples to remind them that they are the salt of the earth or the land (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ ἅλας τῆς γῆς). Meanwhile, the other two gospel writers just had statements about salt, rather than speaking explicitly to the disciples. Matthew then switched to the 3rd person from the 2nd person, when he explained about salt losing its taste (ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας μωρανθῇ). How can the taste be restored to the salt (ἐν τίνι ἁλισθήσεται)? That salt was now useless, impotent, and not good for anything (εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσχύει ἔτι). The end result of this tasteless salt was that it should either be thrown away (εἰ μὴ βληθὲν ἔξω) or have people trample it down (καταπατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων).

The wickedness of the city (Mic 6:9-6:12)

“The voice of Yahweh

Cries to the city.

It is sound wisdom

To fear your name.

‘Hear!

O tribe!

Hear!

Assembly of the city!

Can I forget

The treasures of wickedness

In the house of the wicked?

Can I forget

The scant measure

That is accursed?

Can I tolerate

Wicked scales?

Can I tolerate

A bag of dishonest weights?

Your wealthy

Are full of violence!

Your inhabitants

Speak lies!

They have tongues of deceit

In their mouths!”

The voice of Yahweh would cry out to the city.  The wisdom of the city assembly should be to fear his name.  These city folks should listen to Yahweh.  How could Yahweh forget the treasures of wickedness of these wicked people?  How could he forget the accursed ones?  How could Yahweh tolerate wicked scales with dishonest weights?  The rich wealthy people were full of violence, while the common folk inhabitants of the city spoke nothing but lies, since they had deceitful tongues.

Learn the ways of Yahweh (Hos 14:9-14:9)

“Those who are wise,

Understand these things.

Those who are discerning,

Know them.

The ways of Yahweh

Are right.

The upright

Walk in them.

But transgressors

Stumble in them.”

Hosea ended with a final note about wisdom, probably a later addition. The wise ones would understand these things. The discerning ones would know them. The ways of Yahweh are right, so that the upright ones walk in his way. However, the transgressors stumble in the ways of Yahweh. Once again, the good will walk straight, but the evil ones will stumble and fall.

Gabriel speaks to Daniel (Dan 9:22-9:23)

“Gabriel came.

He said to me.

‘Daniel!

I have now come out

To give you wisdom,

To give you understanding.

At the beginning

Of your supplications,

A word went out.

I have come

To declare it.

You are greatly beloved.

Thus,

Consider the word!

Understand the vision!”

Gabriel had heard the prayer and supplications that Daniel had made to God. Thus, that this was the Angel Gabriel is not out of place, especially based on the last chapter. This Gabriel said to Daniel that he had come to give him wisdom and understanding. Something that he had said at the beginning of his prayers and supplications needed a further explanation. There was no doubt that Daniel was greatly loved. However, he had to consider the words and vision that was about to take place.

The queen talked about the importance of Daniel (Dan 5:11-5:12)

“There is a man

In your kingdom,

Who is endowed

With a spirit

Of the holy gods.

In the days

Of your father,

He was found to have

Enlightenment,

Understanding,

Wisdom,

Like the wisdom

Of the gods.

Your father,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

Made him chief

Of the magicians,

Of the enchanters,

Of the Chaldeans,

Of the diviners.

He had

An excellent spirit,

Knowledge,

Understanding.

He was able

To interpret dreams,

To explain riddles,

To solve problems.

These were found

In this Daniel,

Whom the king named

Belteshazzar.

Now let Daniel

Be called!

He will give

The interpretation.’”

This queen seemed to know all about Daniel and his ability to interpret dreams, probably because she was the queen mother. She reminded King Belshazzar that his father or grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar, had found Daniel to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods. Thus, he made Daniel the chief of the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners. It is not clear why he was not still the chief. This Daniel had an excellent spirit, like that of gods, to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems. The former king gave him a new name, Belteshazzar. She said that this Belteshazzar should be called to give an interpretation to this mysterious writing.

The beautiful prayer of Daniel (Dan 2:20-2:23)

“Daniel said.

‘Blessed be the name

Of God

From age to age!

Wisdom

With power

Is his.

He changes times.

He changes seasons.

He deposes kings.

He sets up kings.

He gives wisdom

To the wise.

He gives knowledge

To those who have understanding.

He reveals deep things.

He reveals hidden things.

He knows

What is in the darkness.

The light dwells

With him.

To you!

O God of my ancestors!

I give thanks!

I give praise!

You have given me

Wisdom.

You have given me

Power.

You have revealed

To me

What we asked of you.

You have revealed

To us

What the king ordered.’”

Daniel has this beautiful prayer to the name of the eternal God, who has wisdom and power. God changes times and seasons. He sets up and deposes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise. He gives knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things. He is the light in the darkness. Daniel then gave thanks and praise to the God of his ancestors, who has given him wisdom and power, when he revealed what the king had asked for.

The four successful court attendants (Dan 1:19-1:21)

“The king spoke

With them.

Among them all,

No one was found

To compare with

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

Therefore,

They were stationed

In the king’s court.

In every matter

Of wisdom,

Of understanding,

Concerning

What the king inquired of them,

He found them

Ten times better

Than all the magicians,

All the enchanters

In his whole kingdom.

Daniel continued there

Until the first year

Of King Cyrus.”

The Babylonian king spoke with all his new young court people. These 4 young Israelite royal students, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were very successful, since no one could compare to them. Thus, they were stationed in the king’s court. In anything about wisdom and understanding, these 4 court attendants were 10 times better than the more traditional Babylonian court magicians and enchanters. These 4 young men became the favorites of King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, in fact, stayed the whole time in the royal court until King Cyrus of Persia took over around 538 BCE. Thus, Daniel would have spent pretty much his entire life in the Babylonian royal court, about 70 years.

The good learners (Dan 1:17-1:17)

“To these four young men,

God gave them

Knowledge.

He gave them

Skill

In every aspect

Of literature,

As well as wisdom.

Daniel also

Had insight

Into all visions

As well as all dreams.”

These four young men were good learners. God, not Yahweh, gave them the skills needed for every aspect of literature, as well as wisdom. In addition, Daniel also had an insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.

Wisdom and incarnation (Bar 3:35-3:37)

“This is our God!

No other can be

Compared to him!

He found the whole way

To knowledge.

He gave her

To his servant

Jacob.

He gave her

To Israel

Whom he loved.

Afterward she appeared

On earth.

She lived

With humans.”

This section of Baruch indicates that wisdom became human in some sense, like an incarnation. Surely God, and not Yahweh, was the creator of the world. Thus no other god or person could compare with him. He had full knowledge of everything. He was omniscient. Thus he gave wisdom to his servant Jacob. He also gave wisdom to Israel, whom he loved. The use of both Jacob and Israel is interesting, since it implies that Jacob was a person and Israel was a name of all his descendants. Then there is the final intriguing comment about how she, wisdom, appeared on earth and lived with humans. Some Christians see this as a hint about the incarnation of Jesus. However, it should be noted that the reference is to a she, a female. Wisdom was generally seen as feminine, not masculine like Jesus. Finally, she has already appeared, so that this is not a future aspirational comment. Wisdom is already living among humans. You just have to find this personification of wisdom here on earth.