Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Micah as a Source for Luke

I have been studying Micah looking for possible word and/or conceptual allusions in Luke. The first example comes from the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

16:27-31: And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

This is a conceptual allusion to Deuteronomy 4:13 (Moses) and Micah 6:8 (prophets).

Deut 4:13-14: And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances, that you might do them in the land which you are going over to possess.

Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Translation: The people have long known the requirements of the Sinai covenant.

Luke has also alluded to Micah 6:4.

4: For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Luke 1:68: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.

The third example in this preliminary study is Micah 3:8.

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

Power is what the πνεύματι provides. Luke uses this same Greek word for “spirit” in the following verses: 1:17; 1:80; 2:27; 3:16; 4:1; 8:29; 9:42; 10:21 with additional verses in Acts.

Micah presents a unique messianic form with its emphasis on decentralized clan-based leadership. Luke in 22:28 in appointing the disciples to judge the twelve tribes may be reconstituting the decentralized clan-based leadership espoused by Micah.

The fifth example is found in the fourth chapter of Micah where prophet states in verses 6-7: “In that day, says the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away, and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant; and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and for evermore.” According to Luke, the followers of Jesus have certainly welcomed the lame, the poor and the down trodden to the ministry as well as the Samaritans and other groups who have been driven away from the Temple.

The sixth example in this preliminary study is based on the usage of the Greek word for “redeem” in Micah 4:10; 6:10 and Luke 24:21.

4:10: Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail; for now you shall go forth from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued, there the LORD will λυτρώσεταί you from the hand of your enemies.

6:4: For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and λυτρόω you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

24:21: But we had hoped that he was the one to λυτροῦσθαι Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.

The two men, traveling on the road to Emmaus, were hoping for the political release of Israel from Roman rule just as their forefathers had been redeemed from the land of Egypt and from the Babylonians.

The next three examples are all allusions found in the 21st chapter of Luke based on verses in the 7th chapter of Micah.

The troubling passage in Luke 21:16-17: “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name's sake” is an allusion to Micah 7:5-6. “Put no trust in a neighbor, have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.”

Luke in 21:24 (Jerusalem will be πατουμέν by the Gentiles) has alluded to Micah 7:10 where the prophet is referring to Jerusalem: Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, "Where is the LORD your God?" My eyes will gloat over her; now she will be καταπτημα like the mire of the streets. Luke used the Greek word πατουμένη for “trodden down” which, according to Zhubert, is a word related to καταπτημα.

In the Parable of the Fig Tree (21:30), the Lucan Jesus says you “know that the summer is already near.” This is an allusion to Micah 7:1 where we read: “Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the vintage has been gleaned: there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig which my soul desires.”

The next example is conceptual and subtle. John the Baptist tells his audience to give one of their garments to a person who has none. Luke has alluded to Micah 2:8 where we read: “But you rise against my people as an enemy; you strip the robe from the peaceful, from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war.” Among those listening to John the Baptist are persons such as tax collectors who have stripped “the robe from the peaceful” taxpayers.

The final example is interesting because Luke uses the Greek word ἄροτρον, which is a NT hapax, to tell us "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." It is an allusion to Micah 4:3 “they shall beat their swords into ἄροτρα.” Only the Lucan Jesus restores the ear of the servant of the high priest. He abhors violence as does the Prophet Micah.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007


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