The virgin Mary (Lk 1:27-1:27)

“The angel Gabriel

Went

To a virgin

Engaged to a man,

Whose name was Joseph,

Of the house of David.

The virgin’s name

Was Mary.”

 

πρὸς παρθένον ἐμνηστευμένην ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ, ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ.

 

Luke has the angel Gabriel appear to Mary, as opposed to Matthew, chapter 1:20, who had an unnamed angel appear to Joseph in a dream.  This angel Gabriel went to a virgin (πρὸς παρθένον), who was engaged (ἐμνηστευμένην) to a man named Joseph (ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ) from the house of David (ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ).  The name of this virgin was Mary (καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ).  Thus, both stories from these 2 gospels concur that Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus.  Matthew said that Joseph had resolved to get rid of Mary, instead of taking her as his wife until the angel of the Lord appeared to him.  This unnamed angel reassured Joseph that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to show Joseph that everything would be alright.  Here the emphasis is on Mary, a common name in first century Judaism based on the name of Mariam, the sister of Moses.  Mary was a virgin (παρθένου), someone who did not have sexual relations with the opposite sex, which would have been normal at this time for young girls before they were married.  However, she was engaged or betrothed to Joseph, who had Davidic ancestry.  In other words, the wedding contact had not been signed.  Thus, they were still involved with prenuptial arrangements.

The old and the young will be in the city (Zech 8:4-8:5)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Old men,

Old women,

Shall again sit

In the streets of Jerusalem.

Each of them

Will have a staff

In hand,

Because of their great age.

The streets of the city

Shall be full

Of boys,

Of girls,

Playing in its streets.’”

Yahweh said that both the old men and the old women would again sit in the streets of Jerusalem with their walking canes due to their old age.  Meanwhile, the young boys and the young girls would fill the city by playing in the streets.

The colorful gods (Bar 6:8-6:11)

“The god’s tongues

Are smoothed

By the carpenter.

They themselves

Are overlaid

With gold

Or silver.

But they are false.

They cannot speak.

People take gold.

They make crowns

For the heads

Of their gods,

As they would

For a girl

Who loves ornaments.

Sometimes the priests

Secretly take gold

Or silver

From their gods.

They spend it

On themselves.

They even give

Some of it

To the prostitutes

On the terrace.

They deck

Their gods out

With garments

Like human beings.

These are gods of silver.

These are gods of gold.

These are gods of wood.”

These colorful gods have carpenters who smooth out their tongues. These gods are overlaid with gold or silver, but they are still false since they cannot speak. They even have golden crowns on their heads. These gods are like young girls who love pretty ornaments. Sometimes, their priests secretly take the gold or silver from their gods to spend it on themselves. They may even give some of it to the local street or temple prostitutes. They dress up their gods with various garments to make them look more human. Thus they have gods made of silver, gold, or wood that are colorful but useless.

The crying eyes (Lam 3:49-3:51)

Ayin

“My eyes will flow

Without ceasing.

They will flow

Without respite,

Until Yahweh

From heaven

Looks down,

Until Yahweh

Sees them.

My eyes

Cause me grief

At the fate

Of all the young women

In my city.”

The personal lament of this author continues. He was full of flowing, unceasing, and unstoppable tears. He wanted Yahweh to look down from heaven to see him crying. His eyes were causing him grief at what was happening to the young girls of his city. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Ayin 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 sufferings in Zion (Lam 1:4-1:4)

Daleth

“The roads to Zion

Mourn.

No one comes

To the appointed feasts.

All her gates

Are desolate.

Her priests

Groan.

Her young girls

Grieve.

Her lot is bitter.”

Zion is another name for Jerusalem. Any and everyone on the roads to Jerusalem are in mourning. No one comes to the feast day celebrations. Her torn down gates are desolate. The few priests, and the young girls left in town, groan and grieve since Jerusalem is a very bitter place. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Daleth. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The impending death of old age (Eccl 12:3-12:7)

“In the day

When the guards of the house tremble,

The strong men are bent.

The women who grind cease working

Because they are few.

Those who look through the windows see dimly.

The doors on the street are shut.

The sound of the grinding is low.

One rises up at the sound of a bird.

All the daughters of song are brought low.

When one is afraid of heights,

The terrors are in the road.

The almond tree blossoms.

The grasshopper drags itself along.

Desire fails.

Because all must go to their eternal home.

The mourners will go about the streets.

The silver cord is snapped.

The golden bowl is broken.

The pitcher is broken at the fountain.

The wheel is broken at the cistern.

The dust returns to the earth as it was.

The spirit returns to God who gave it.”

This is an ode to old age. The dying old man, with his many servants and guards, comes to an end. The guards tremble. The strong men bend over. The women grinders stop their dancing. They can only see dimly out the window. Everyone has shut their doors. The grinders have ceased. Morning comes early with the first sound of a bird. There are no more singing young girls. The old man is afraid of heights. He dreads going out on the road because of the fear of attack. The old people tend to walk awkwardly like a grasshopper. Their desires fail maybe due to incompetence. The trees still blossom, but the mourners are out on the streets. The signs of death, the snapped silver cord, the broken gold bowl, and the broken pitcher at the fountain all take place. The wheel was broken at the cistern. They return to dust, but their spirit or breath returns to God. This is a depressing description of old age, just before death, along with the symbolic actions that go with death.