Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I will gather the lame, the outcasts and the afflicted

The Priestly Code severely restricted access to the Temple for the chronically ill, including lepers, the blind and the lame, deaf, those with physical deformities and blemishes. Samaritans, and persons employed in unclean occupations such as tanners, and outcasts were also excluded. Yet Micah tells in that day, the Lord will assemble the lame and gather together all of the outcasts and make the remnant into a strong nation.

Mic. 4:6-7 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.

Previously it was noted that Micah 3:9-12 and 4:1-5 are linked together by striking contrasts. In Micah 2:12-13, the remnant will be brought into the besieged Jerusalem. In verses 6-7, Yahweh will after the fall of Jerusalem make the remnant into a strong nation and rule over them from Mount Zion using the same verbs, gather, assemble and bring into that appeared earlier in verses 12-13. The mention of Mount Zion in verse 7 forms an inclusio with 4:1.

Hasel, Mays and most recently Waltke have shown that “remnant” terminology predates the exile. Hasel has demonstrated that the concept is found in the flood accounts in the Akkadian, Ugarite and Egyptian literature. There is no reason to treat the appearance of “remnant” in Micah as a late addition.

Did the audience consider Micah a messenger of radical change? It is not likely that Micah is suggesting that the lame and unclean shepherds will now have access to the Temple. Instead, Micah is using “lame” as a literary paradigm to announce the restoration of the people of God.

Did Luke consider the ministry of Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophecy? The Lucan Jesus instructs his host: “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” Luke is interested in women, Samaritans, lepers, the blind, the lame, the poor, God-fearers, proselytes, Greeks and Gentiles not only because they were marginalized religiously by being excluded from participation in the Temple worship but also because they were marginalized socially.

The Lucan Jesus is a messenger of radical change and he is announcing that everyone will have access. No one will be excluded from the community. In the Gospel of Luke, the people are healed and integrated into the community of the followers of Jesus.

Copyrighted 2007


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