Luke Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. In the fifteenth year of Emperor Tiberius’ rule; when Pontius Pilate was governor of Y’hudah, Herod ruler of the Galil, his brother Philip ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene,
Luke roots in world history the world-shaking and world-transcending events he describes. Tiberius was Emperor of Rome from the death of Augustas in 14 C.E. (see 2: IN) until 37 C.E. After Hordos (Herod) the Great died in 4 B.C.E. (see Ml 2:1N), his kingdom was divided. The region of Y'hudah was at first ruled by Herod's son Archelaus (Mt 2:22) until he was deposed in 6 C.E. After that it was ruled by a Roman "procurator"; this office was held by Pontius Pilate (see Mt 27:2N) from 26 to 36 C.E. North of Y'hudah the region of the Galil was ruled by another of Herod the Great's sons, Herod Antipas, from 4 B.C.E. until 39 C.E. East of the Galil a third son of Herod the Great, Herod Philip, ruled Iturea and Trachonitis from 4 B.C.E. until 34 C.E. And to the north, northwest of Damascus, the region around the city of Abilene was ruled by one Lysanias, mentioned in inscriptions but not clearly identified.
2. with ‘Anan and Kayafa being the cohanim g’dolim; the word of God came to Yochanan Ben-Z’kharyah in the desert.
With Anan (Annas) and Kayafa (Caiaphas) being thecohanimg'dolim (high priests). Could there be two high priests? No, Anan was cohen gadol for some years until 15 C.E. and was then deposed by the Romans — the office was no longer held for life but was manipulated by the Romans for political purposes. Anan's son-in-law Kayafa attained the office in 25 or 26 C.E. and was deposed in 36; he is mentioned in all four gospels as the cohen gadol presiding over Yeshua's two trials and archaeologists in Jerusalem have recently unearthed his tomb. Nevertheless Anan remained a powerful figure (see Yn 18:12-24&NN), and it was natural to continue calling him cohen gadol (compare Ac 4:6), since for Jews, this office was held for life.
3. He went all through the Yarden region proclaiming an immersion involving turning to God from sin in order to be forgiven.
Immersion. See Ml 3:1N.
Turning from sins. See Mt 3:2N.
4. It was just as had been written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Yesha‘yahu, The voice of someone crying out: ‘In the desert prepare the way for Adonai! Make straight paths for him!
5. Every valley must be filled in, every mountain and hill leveled off; the winding roads must be straightened and the rough ways made smooth.
6. Then all humanity will see God’s deliverance.’”. (Isaiah 40:3–5)
Isaiah 40:3-5 is quoted as describing the ministry of Yochanan the lmmerser. See also 2:25N above.
All humanity will see God's deliverance. This is quoted from the Septuagint; the Hebrew Bible has: "All flesh will see it together." The Hebrew text underlying the Septuagint would have had the word "yeshu 'ah " for "deliverance." There is a pun here, for yeshu'ah is the feminine form of the Messiah's name Yeshua'; this seems to be the point of Luke's more extended quotation (compare Mt 3:3, Mk 1:3).
7. Therefore, Yochanan said to the crowds who came out to be immersed by him, “You snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming punishment?
8. If you have really turned from your sins, produce fruit that will prove it! And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘Avraham is our father’! For I tell you that God can raise up for Avraham sons from these stones!
Sons from these stones. See Mt 3:9N.
9. Already the axe is at the root of the trees, ready to strike; every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown in the fire!”
10. The crowds asked Yochanan, “So then, what should we do?"
11. He answered, “Whoever has two coats should share with somebody who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.”
12. Tax-collectors also came to be immersed; and they asked him, “Rabbi, what should we do?”
Tax-collectors. See Mt 5:46N.
13. “Collect no more than the government assesses,” he told them.
14. Some soldiers asked him, “What about us? What should we do?” To them he said, “Don’t intimidate anyone, don’t accuse people falsely, and be satisfied with your pay.”
15. The people were in a state of great expectancy, and everyone was wondering whether perhaps Yochanan himself might be the Messiah;
16. so Yochanan answered them all, “I am immersing you in water, but he who is coming is more powerful than I — I’m not worthy to untie his sandals! He will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh and in fire.
In the Ruach HaKodesh. See Ml 3:11-12N.
17. He has with him his winnowing fork to clear out his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the straw with unquenchable fire!”
18. And with many other warnings besides these he announced the Good News to the people.
19. But Yochanan also denounced Herod the regional governor for taking as his own wife Herodias, the wife of his brother, and for all the other wicked things Herod had done;
See Mt 14:1-12&N.
20. whereupon Herod added this to the rest: he locked up Yochanan in prison.
21. While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened;
22. the Ruach HaKodesh came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you.”
A voice came from heaven. See Mt 3:17N.
23. Yeshua was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. It was supposed that he was a son of Yosef who was of Eli,
24. of Mattat, of Levi, of Malki, of Yannai, of Yosef,
25. of Mattityahu, of Amotz, of Nachum, of Hesli, of Naggai,
26. of Machat, of Mattityahu, of Shim‘i, of Yosef, of Yodah,
27. of Yochanan, of Reisha, of Z’rubavel, of Sh’altiel, of Neri,
28. of Malki, of Addi, of Kosam, of Elmadan, of Er,
29. of Yeshua, of Eli‘ezer, of Yoram, of Mattat, of Levi,
30. of Shim‘on, of Y’hudah, of Yosef, of Yonam, of Elyakim,
31. of Mal’ah, of Manah, of Mattatah, of Natan, of David,
32. of Yishai, of ‘Oved, of Bo‘az, of Salmon, of Nachshon,
33. of Amminadav, of Admin, of Arni, of Hetzron, of Peretz, of Y’hudah,
34. of Ya‘akov, of Yitz’chak, of Avraham, of Terach, of Nachor,
35. of S’rug, of Re‘u, of Peleg, of ‘Ever, of Shelah,
36. of Keinan, of Arpakhshad, of Shem, of Noach, of Lemekh,
37. of Metushelach, of Hanokh, of Yered, of Mahalal’el, of Keinan,
38. of Enosh, of Shet, of Adam, of God.
23-38 A literal translation of the Greek text starting at v. 23 would be: "And Yeshua himself was beginning about thirty years, being son, as was supposed, of Yosef, of the Eli, of the Mat tat, of the L'vi," etc. The questions raised here are: What does it mean to be "of someone? and which person is described as being "of the Eli"? — Yosef or Yeshua?
If Yosef is here reported to be the son of Eli, there is an apparent conflict with Mt 1:16, which reads, "Ya'akov was the father of Yosef, the husband of Miryam, from whom was born the Yeshua that was called the Messiah." But the genealogies of both Mattityahu and Luke employ unusual language in connection with Yeshua — and with good reason, since both assert that he had no human father in the ordinary sense of the word, but that the virgin Miryam was caused to bear Yeshua by the Holy Spirit of God in a supernatural way; see Mt 1:16N.
If this is so, what do the genealogies mean? The simplest explanation is that Mattityahu gives the genealogy of Yosef, who, though not Yeshua's physical father, was regarded as his father by people generally (below, 4:22; Yn 1:45, 6:42); while Luke gives the genealogy of Yeshua through his mother Miryam, the daughter of Eli. If so.
Yeshua is "of the Eli" in the sense of being his grandson; while Yeshua's relationship with Yosef is portrayed in the words, "son, as supposed" — implying not actually: see numbered paragraph (2) of note on "Son of" at Mt 1:1N.
Luke's language also distinguishes Yosef from Yeshua's direct ancestors by not including the word "the" before "Yosef in the original Greek. "By the omission of the article, Joseph's name is separated from the genealogical chain and accorded a place of its own" (F. Rienecker, Praktisches Handkommentar Zu Lukas Evangelium) 1930, p. 302, as cited in A Jewish Christian Response by the Messianic Jew Louis Goldberg). A different explanation of these anomalies is to make not Yeshua but Yosef the grandson of Eli on his mother's side. In the JNTtext as it stands I have opted for this explanation; that is the significance of my reintroducing the word "the" as a demonstrative: It was supposed that Yeshua was a son of the particular Yosef who was, on his mother's side, the grandson of Eli, son of Mattat, son of L'vi.... But I have no strong attachment to this explanation; the other is equally satisfying and equally problematical.
The two genealogies also raise the question of how Yeshua can claim the throne of his ancestor King David (see Mt I: IN on "son of David"). The argument against him is that even if Luke's genealogy is of Miryam and goes back to David, it doesn't help Yeshua; because descent, for purposes of inheriting kingship, cannot be counted through the mother. And if Yosef is not Yeshua's physical father, his legal status as Yeshua's adoptive father, even though adequate for establishing Yeshua's legal right to King David's throne (see Mt 1:24-25N), is insufficient to fulfill the prophecy of 2 Samuel 7:12 to David, "And when your days are fulfilled and you sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will issue from your bowels." But there is a descent from David, whether it applies to Yosef or to Miryam. and no genealogy could cope with the radically unique circumstances of Yeshua's birth as God's "only and unique" son (Yn 1:I8&N), with no human physical father. Such circumstances transcend pedestrian application of genealogies. Yeshua was the seed of David, physically from his loins, in the manner and to the degree that these circumstances admit; also see Mt 1:16N.
A fifth- or sixth-century non-Messianic Jewish "anti-gospel" called Toledot-Ye.ihu ("Generations of Yeshu"; see Mt 1:18N), apparently written for Jewish popular consumption after several centuries of Church persecution, represents Yeshua as the product of an illegitimate union between Miryam and a Roman soldier named Yosef ben-Pandera. A more attenuated version of this story appears in the Talmud (Shabbat 104b, Sanhedrin 67a) and the Tosefta (Chullin 2:22-23); see Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash). The obvious motive for such a fable is to neutralize the Gospel narratives of heavenly intervention with a more earthy explanation for an unmarried woman's bearing a son.
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