The power of the law (Lk 16:17-16:17)

“It is easier

For heaven

And earth

To pass away,

Than for one stroke

Of a letter

Of the law

To be dropped.”

 

εὐκοπώτερον δέ ἐστιν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν παρελθεῖν ἢ τοῦ νόμου μίαν κεραίαν πεσεῖν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that it was easier (εὐκοπώτερον δέ ἐστιν) for heaven (τὸν οὐρανὸν) and earth (καὶ τὴν γῆν) to pass away (παρελθεῖν), than for one stroke of a letter of the law to be dropped (ἢ τοῦ νόμου μίαν κεραίαν πεσεῖν).  Nothing in the Law or the Torah could be changed or dropped, plain and simple.  This saying is similar to Mark, chapter 13:31, and Matthew, chapter 5:18, with a few exceptions.  Matthew has this as a great Jesus solemn pronouncement for his disciples (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν).  The next phrase is the same in Luke and Mark.  Heaven and earth would not pass away (ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ) until the law was fully accomplished (ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται).  Matthew, like Luke here, is even more specific with a detailed remark about the fact that not even an iota of the Law or not one stroke of a letter would go away (ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου), before the Law was fully accomplished.  Iota was the Greek word for the Hebrew yod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  Mark indicated that it was the words of Jesus, and not the Law, that would not change.  Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 3:31, would further expand on this idea of upholding the law.  In Matthew, chapter 24:35, and in Luke, chapter 21:33, Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away (ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται), but his words would not pass away (οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται).  This was a simple statement about the enduring quality of the words of Jesus.  Here, however, it is the words of the law that would not pass away, not the words of Jesus.  Which is more important for you, the law or the words of Jesus?

The law remains (Mt 5:18-5:18)

“Truly,

I tell you!

‘Until heaven

And earth

Pass away,

Not an iota or yod,

Nor one stroke of a letter,

Will pass away

From the law,

Until all is accomplished.’”

 

ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.

 

This saying is similar to Mark, chapter 13:31, and Luke, chapter 16:17, with a few exceptions. Matthew has this as a great Jesus pronouncement for his disciples, since he said right at the beginning, “Truly, I tell you (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν)! The next phrase is exactly the same in Luke and Mark. Heaven and earth would not pass away (ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ,) until the law was fully accomplished (ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται). Matthew is even more specific with a detailed remark about the fact that not even an iota of the Law or not one stroke of a letter would go away (ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου), before the Law was fully accomplished. Iota was the Greek word for the Hebrew “yod,” the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Nothing in the Law or the Torah could be changed, plain and simple. Mark indicated that it was the words of Jesus, and not the Law, that would not change. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 3:31, would further expand on this idea of upholding the law.

Yahweh protects even in floods (Nah 1:7-1:8)

Yod

“Yahweh protects those

Who take refuge in him,

Even in a rushing flood.”

According to the Hebrew letter Yod, Yahweh would protect anyone who took refuge in him, even those in a raging flood.  Is this perhaps an allusion to the great flood in Genesis?

Cannibalism (Lam 4:10-4:10)

Yod

“The hands

Of compassionate women

Have boiled

Their own children.

They became

Their food

In the destruction

Of my people.”

This author complains about the practice of cannibalism. Even the compassionate women of Jerusalem boiled their own children. They had their own children become their food as Yahweh’s people self-destructed. This cannibalism was also mentioned in Jeremiah, chapter 19, and in the 2nd Lamentation. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod in this acrostic poem.

Silence is good (Lam 3:28-3:30)

Yod

“It is good

To sit alone

In silence,

When Yahweh

Has imposed it.

It is good

To put

One’s mouth

To the dust.

There may yet be hope.

It is good

To give one’s cheek

To the one who

Strikes you.

It is good

To be filled

With insults.”

Now this author says that is good to sit alone waiting in silence for Yahweh. It is also good to put your mouth to the dust, indicating that one has hope for the future. You should also give your cheek to the one who is hitting you, an idea mentioned later in the Christian gospels. Finally it is good to accept insults. Here there is an important element of silence, self control, and humility.   These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod in this acrostic poem.

The mourning in Jerusalem (Lam 2:10-2:10)

Yod

“The elders

Of daughter Zion

Sit on the ground

In silence.

They have thrown dust

On their heads.

They have put on

Sackcloth.

The young girls

Of Jerusalem

Have bowed

Their heads

To the ground.”

There is a change in tone here. No longer was Yahweh with his anger the main point. The emphasis now shifts to those left in the city of Jerusalem itself. The elders, who were left in Jerusalem, were sitting on the ground in silence. They were grieving, as they threw dust on their heads and put sackcloth on. The young girls of Jerusalem also bowed their heads to the ground. Obliviously not everyone was killed or taken captive. These old men and young women left in Jerusalem were in a state of shock and mourning. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The invasion of the sanctuary (Lam 1:10-1:10)

Yod

“Enemies

Have stretched out

Their hands

Over all

Her precious things.

She has even seen

The nations

Invade her sanctuary.

You had forbidden

Your congregation

To enter it.”

The enemies of Jerusalem and Yahweh have put their hands all over her precious things in the sanctuary. Now all kinds of people and countries have invaded the Temple sanctuary in Jerusalem, the very places where Yahweh’s own congregation was not even allowed to enter. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.