“At that very time,
There were some present
Who told Jesus
About the Galileans,
Pilate had mingled
With their sacrifices.”
Παρῆσαν δέ τινες ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ καιρῷ ἀπαγγέλλοντες αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν Γαλιλαίων ὧν τὸ αἷμα Πειλᾶτος ἔμιξεν μετὰ τῶν θυσιῶν αὐτῶν.
Luke uniquely said that at that very time (ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ καιρῷ), there were some people present (Παρῆσαν δέ τινες) who told Jesus (ἀπαγγέλλοντες αὐτῷ) about the Galileans (περὶ τῶν Γαλιλαίων), whose blood (ὧν τὸ αἷμα) Pilate (Πειλᾶτος) had mingled (ἔμιξεν) with their sacrifices (μετὰ τῶν θυσιῶν αὐτῶν). This is a unique passage of Luke that talked about a contemporary event of Jesus. Apparently, Pontius Pilate, who was rather cruel, had killed some Galileans when they were worshiping at the Jerusalem Temple. However, there is no other indication about this incident anywhere else, nor is it clear how many Galileans were involved. What do you think about killing people while they are praying in a place of worship?
“There was a prophet,
The daughter of Phanuel,
Of the tribe of Asher.
She was of a great age.
She had lived
With her husband
After her marriage.”
Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις, θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ, ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ· αὕτη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς, ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς,
Next Luke introduced a female prophet, Anna. There were some female prophets in the biblical literature like Miriam in Exodus, chapter 15:20, the sister of Aaron and Moses, who was called a prophet like her brother Aaron, the first instance of women worshiping God. Deborah, in Judges, chapter 4:4, was a married woman prophet from the northern tribe of Ephraim who led troops into battle. Finally, Huddah in 2 Kings, chapter 22:14-20, was one of the few mentioned female prophets. The elders in Jerusalem consulted her about what to do with a holy book. Her response led to the religious revival under King Josiah (640-609 BCE). Like the other Israelite male and female prophets, Anna interpreted God’s will for his people. Luke said that there was a prophet Anna (Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις), the daughter of Phanuel (θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ), of the northern tribe of Asher (ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ). Her father’s name Phanuel was considered to be the fourth of the great archangels with Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, according to the 3rd century BCE work, the Book of Enoch, but there is no implication here that she was angelic. Thus, she was not a local Judean, but a northern Galilean Jewish person from Asher. She was greatly advanced in years (τη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς), since she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage (ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς). She had become a widow.
“But she came.
She knelt worshiping before him.
ἡ δὲ ἐλθοῦσα προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγουσα Κύριε, βοήθει μοι.
This is similar to Mark, chapter 7:25, where the Canaanite woman came to Jesus (ἡ δὲ ἐλθοῦσα). She knelt before him in worship (προσεκύνει αὐτῷ). She addressed Jesus as the Lord (λέγουσα Κύριε) and asked for his help (βοήθει μοι). She was very insistent.
They paid homage
To the child.
They worshiped him.
Opening their treasures,
They offered him gifts
καὶ πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δῶρα, χρυσὸν καὶ λίβανον καὶ σμύρναν
This is the classic scene of the Epiphany of Jesus, with the magi, the 3 kings, the wise men adoring and worshiping the new born infant Jesus. The magi entered the house. They knelt down and worshipped the new child (πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ). Then they opened their treasures (ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν). They offered him gifts (προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δῶρα) of gold (χρυσὸν), frankincense (λίβανον), and myrrh (σμύρναν). These were the same traditional gifts mentioned in Isaiah, chapter 60:6, gold and frankincense, an expensive spice. Myrrh was a perfume. So too, Epiphany, ἐπιφάνεια, means manifestation or appearance. In classical Greek, it was a manifestation of a deity to a worshiper. Thus, Jesus manifests himself to these worshipping magi. The earliest references to the Christian feast of Epiphany come from the 4th century CE. In the Latin-speaking Western Christianity, this holiday emphasized the visit of the magi, who represented the non-Jewish people of the world. Thus, this child Jesus was considered a revelation to the gentiles. In the middle ages, these biblical magi or magicians became the 3 kings, as a whole story developed around them. Balthasar was the youngest one, bearing frankincense that symbolized the divinity of Jesus, representing Africa. Caspar was middle-aged one bearing gold that symbolized the royalty of Jesus, representing Asia. Melchior the oldest one, bearing myrrh symbolized the passion of Jesus, representing Europe. For many years, and still in some non-English speaking countries today, Epiphany was and is a bigger feast day than Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus and his revelation to the world.
‘After she has done all this
She will return to me.’
But she did not return.
Her false sister Judah saw it.
That for all the adulteries
Of that faithless one,
I had sent her away
With a decree of divorce.
Yet her false sister Judah did not fear.
But she too went
To play the whore.
Because she took her whoredom so lightly,
She polluted the land.
She committed adultery
With a stone.
She committed adultery
With a tree.
Yet for all this
Her false sister Judah
Did not return to me
With her whole heart,
But only in pretense.’
Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah, but this time it was about Judah, not the northern Israelite tribes. Yahweh had expected the northern tribes to return to him. However, the southern tribe of Judah saw what happened and did the same as her northern sisters. Judah had no fear, even though Yahweh had divorced northern Israel. Then Judah, the false sister, played the whore. She polluted the land as she turned to worshiping the stones and trees during the reigns of the preceding kings of Judah, King Manasseh (687-642 BCE) and King Amon (642-640 BCE) the father and grandfather of King Josiah. Thus they committed adultery with these false worship services. Judah only pretended to return to Yahweh. Thus Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah.
“Whoever slaughters an ox is
Like one who kills a human being.
Whoever sacrifices a lamb is
Like one who breaks a dog’s neck.
Whoever presents a cereal offering is
Like one who offers swine’s blood.
Whoever makes a memorial offering
Of frankincense is
Like one who blesses an idol.
These have chosen their own ways.
They take delight in their abominations.
I also will choose to mock them.
I will bring upon them
What they fear.
When I called,
No one answered.
When I spoke
They did not listen.
But they did
What was evil in my sight.
What did not please me.”
Yahweh seems to rebuke those who sacrifice animals, saying that killing oxen is like killing humans. If they sacrificed lambs, they are sacrificing dogs. A grain offering was compared to unclean pig’s blood. The use of the frankincense was compared to worshiping idols. They have chosen their own ways that are an abomination to Yahweh. He would continue to mock and punish them because no one answered when he called. No one listened when he spoke. They continued to do evil and not please God.
“The evil intent of human art has not misled us.
The fruitless toil of painters has not misled us,
A figure stained with varied colors,
Whose appearance arouses yearning in fools,
So that they desire the lifeless form of a dead image.
These are lovers of evil things.
They are fit for such objects of hope.
There are those who make them.
There are those who desire them.
There are those who worship them.”
The righteous were not misled by human (ἀνθρώπων) art or painters with vivid colors. The appearance of these idols (εἶδος) led fools to desire the lifeless form of a dead image (τε νεκρᾶς εἰκόνος). The idol worshippers loved evil things, whether they were the makers of these idols, only desiring them, or actually worshiping them.
‘Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life.
Many of the young should suppose
That Eleazar in his ninetieth year
Has gone over to an alien religion.
Through my pretense,
For the sake of living a brief moment longer,
They should be led astray because of me.
While I defile and disgrace my old age.
Even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of mortals,
Yet whether I live or die
I will not escape the hands of the Almighty.
Therefore, by bravely giving up my life now,
I will show myself worthy of my old age.
I will leave to the young
A noble example of how
To die a good death willingly and nobly
For the revered and holy laws.’”
Much like Socrates, Eleazar gave a speech talking about an honorable death. He too was old man in his 90s. He did not have to corrupt the youth by giving the impression that he was worshiping an alien god. What was the use of doing this for a few more moments of life? Why should he disgrace his old age? Whether he lived or died, he could not escape the hands of the Almighty one. He wanted to leave a noble example of following the law for the young people. So he was willing to die for the law.