The blood of Abel (Lk 11:51-11:51)

“From the blood

Of Abel

To the blood

Of Zechariah,

Who perished

Between the altar

And the sanctuary.

Yes!

I tell you!

It will be charged

Against this generation.”

 

ἀπὸ αἵματος Ἄβελ ἕως αἵματος Ζαχαρίου τοῦ ἀπολομένου μεταξὺ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ τοῦ οἴκου· ναί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐκζητηθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said with a solemn proclamation (ναί, λέγω ὑμῖν) that from all the blood of Abel (ἀπὸ αἵματος Ἄβελ) to the blood of Zechariah (ἕως αἵματος Ζαχαρίου), who perished between the altar and the sanctuary (τοῦ ἀπολομένου μεταξὺ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ τοῦ οἴκου) would be charged against this generation (ἐκζητηθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης).  Matthew, chapter 23:35 is similar to this, perhaps a Q source.  Jesus said this bloodshed would be charged to the Pharisees and Scribes from the blood of the righteous Abel (ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος Ἅβελ τοῦ δικαίου) to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah (ἕως τοῦ αἵματος Ζαχαρίου υἱοῦ Βαραχίου).  He was murdered between the Temple sanctuary and the sacrificial altar (ὃν ἐφονεύσατε μεταξὺ τοῦ ναοῦ καὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου).  Abel was the brother that Cain killed in Genesis, chapter 4:8.  His just blood would cry out from the ground.  This Zechariah was a little more complicated.  2 Chronicles, chapter 24:20-22, has a Zechariah, the son of the priest Jehoiada who was stoned to death in the Temple courtyard.  As he was dying, he asked God to avenge his death.  However, Zechariah, the son of Barachiah in Zechariah, chapter 1:1, was a 6th century BCE prophet from a priestly family.  Genesis was the first book of the Hebrew Bible and 2 Chronicles was considered the last book of the Hebrew Bible.  Thus, all the innocent blood from the beginning of the world throughout Israelite history would be upon these Pharisees or this generation.  There would be a continuation of this innocent blood with Jesus himself.  How are you responsible for the death of Jesus?

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The Levite passed by (Lk 10:32-10:32)

“Thus,

Likewise

A Levite,

When he came

To the place

Saw him.

He passed by

On the other side.”

 

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν

 

Luke continued his unique story.  Jesus said that a Levite also (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης) came to this same place (κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν) on the road.  He saw the wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν).  Then he too crossed over to the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν), so as not to engage with this man.  The same questions can be asked of this Jewish Levite that were asked about the priest.  Was it because of ritual purity?  Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop?  Did he simply not care?  Was it too much of a bother?  Normally, the Levites do not come in for much criticism in the gospel narratives.  Levites were sons of Levi, and tied to ritualistic practice at the Temple.  For instance, the father of John the Baptist was Zechariah and his mother Elizabeth, both of them were descendants of Aaron.  Zechariah was a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, while Elizabeth was from a Levite family.  These Levites had Temple duties.  Thus, they were religious ritual leaders in the Jewish community.  Both the priest and the Levite represented the upper religious strata of the Jewish community.  Do you think that religious leaders should set an example by their lifestyle?

Simeon (Lk 2:25-2:25)

“Now there was a man

In Jerusalem,

Whose name

Was Simeon.

This man

Was righteous

And devout.

He was looking forward

To the consolation

Of Israel.

The Holy Spirit

Rested upon him.”

 

Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλὴμ ᾧ ὄνομα Συμεών, καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβής, προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, καὶ Πνεῦμα ἦν Ἅγιον ἐπ’ αὐτόν·

 

Next Luke brought a man named Simeon into this scene in the Jerusalem Temple.  We know nothing else about him, except what is written here in Luke.  Simeon (ᾧ ὄνομα Συμεών,) was a righteous (καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος) and devout God-fearing man (καὶ εὐλαβής) living in Jerusalem (Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλὴμ).  He was looking forward to the consolation of Israel (προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ).  The Holy Spirit rested upon him (καὶ Πνεῦμα ἦν Ἅγιον ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  Once again, Luke emphasized that the Holy Spirit was on Simeon, just he had been on John, Mary, Elizabeth, and Zechariah, 5 people filled with the Holy Spirit.  The consolation that Simeon was expecting was the redemption of Israel or the messianic happening of the end times.

 

The holy child (Lk 2:23-2:23)

“As it is written

In the law

Of the Lord.

‘Every firstborn male

Shall be designated

As holy

To the Lord.”

 

καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν νόμῳ Κυρίου ὅτι Πᾶν ἄρσεν διανοῖγον μήτραν ἅγιον τῷ Κυρίῳ κληθήσεται,

 

Luke further elaborated about the written Law of the Lord (καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν νόμῳ Κυρίου).  In a paraphrase of Exodus, chapter 13:2, he said that every male born or opening the womb (ὅτι Πᾶν ἄρσεν διανοῖγον μήτραν) shall be designated or called holy to the Lord (ἅγιον τῷ Κυρίῳ κληθήσεται).  It no longer is the Law of Moses, but the Law of the Lord God.  Notice that Luke did not say first born, but just male.  This presentation of the male child is similar to Hannah presenting Samuel in 1 Samuel, chapter 1:24-27.  Hannah brought her young son Samuel to the Temple of Yahweh at Shiloh.  There they saw the prophet Eli.  Thus, she gave or lent Samuel to Yahweh and the prophet Eli.  Luke made sure to point out that Elizabeth, Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary were all very good law-abiding Jewish parents.

Peace (Lk 1:79-1:79)

“God will give light

To those who

Sit in darkness.

He will give light

To those who

Sit in the shadow

Of death.

He will

Guide our feet

Into the way

Of peace.”

 

ἐπιφᾶναι τοῖς ἐν σκότει καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου καθημένοις, τοῦ κατευθῦναι τοὺς πόδας ἡμῶν εἰς ὁδὸν εἰρήνης.

 

Luke concluded Zechariah’s canticle with a call to peace for all Israelites.  Zechariah said that God would give light or shine upon those who sat in darkness (ἐπιφᾶναι τοῖς ἐν σκότει).  He would also give light to those who sat in the shadow of death (καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου καθημένοις).  He would guide their feet (τοῦ κατευθῦναι τοὺς πόδας ἡμῶν) into the way of peace (εἰς ὁδὸν εἰρήνης).  Once again, returning to prophetic expectations, Zechariah said that things would be good for those living in darkness or the shadow of death.  Hope or the messiah would come so that they would have the lasting peace that they so desired.

 

The tender mercy of God (Lk 1:78-1:78)

“By the tender mercy

Of our God,

The dawn

From on high

Will break

Upon us.”

 

διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους,

 

Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle with an insistence on the mercy of their God.  Zechariah said that by the heart felt tender mercy and compassion of their God (διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν), a new day or a sunrise (ἀνατολὴ) from on high (ἐξ ὕψους) would break out upon them or visit them (ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς).  As many of the prophets had pointed out already. the messiah or savior would come like a sunrise to break into their lives.  So too, John, his son, would be part of this process that would culminate in Jesus.

The prophet of the Most High (Lk 1:76-1:76)

“You!

Child!

Will be called

The prophet

Of the Most High!

You will go

Before the Lord

To prepare

His ways.”

 

Καὶ σὺ δέ, παιδίον, προφήτης Ὑψίστου κληθήσῃ· προπορεύσῃ γὰρ ἐνώπιον Κυρίου ἑτοιμάσαι ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ,

 

Finally, Zechariah, via Luke in this canticle, turned to his child John.  He said to him (Καὶ σὺ δέ, παιδίον) that he would be called the prophet of the Most High (προφήτης Ὑψίστου κληθήσῃ).  He would go before or precede the Lord (προπορεύσῃ γὰρ ἐνώπιον Κυρίου) to prepare his ways (ἑτοιμάσαι ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ).  The term Most High was an attempt to translate the Hebrew word for God “Elohim.”  There was no Greek word equivalent for Yahweh, so that the tendency was to use the word “Lord” or “Κυρίου.”  Notice that Jesus was going to be the Son of the Most High, while John was going to be the prophet of the Most High.  John was to prepare the ways for the Lord, as in Isaiah, chapters 40:3 and 57:14.